B-Side: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

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When was the last time you celebrated The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill? It’s been two decades since Ms. Lauryn Hill released her first and, as of today, only solo studio album, and outside of some occasional appearances and a rich history of misused samples (including Drake’s execrable new single “Nice for What”), it’s rarely something that enters contemporary music discussion. It feels like one of those albums you’re more likely to find on Greatest Albums of All Time lists than in anyone’s discman, to which we loudly exclaim: fuck that.

20 years on, as Lauryn Hill gears up for an extensive tour, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains one of the most vital, complex, and unique debuts in music history, a dense document of faith, heartache, and motherhood with a fire and wisdom that belie the age of the woman writing it (she was 23 at the time). It set the tone for all pop and R&B music for decades to come while still sounding entirely original, even today. It’s really great, is what we’re saying, even if it isn’t quite the wall-to-wall masterpiece we might remember it being.

So yes, we talk about our issues with the album, and the difficulties of returning to an album like this after so many years of cultural baggage. But we also talk about how effortlessly it shrugs off that weight, how startlingly complete this first album feels, and how dang charming Lauryn Hill was and remains. And yeah, absolutely we talk about Sister Act 2. How could we not?

Also: Shorty for Mayor, dead old white men, and another inexplicable jab at New Jersey.

Music:

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You
Lost Ones
Ex-Factor
Tell Him
Doo Wop (That Thing)

Links:

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