Hill puts her Fugees past behind and seizes the spotlight
To understand the significance of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it’s important to remember what mainstream hip-hop was like in 1998. Materialism and misogyny were rampant, fanned by music videos that presented women as objects or conquests. Hill’s first solo album provided a sharp counterpoint by injecting the perspective of a young black woman dealing with identity and sexuality. The response to it was universal—Miseducation was a juggernaut, earning five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. She put her Fugees past behind her, seizing the spotlight to showcase her rapping skills and amplify her emotional singing voice. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Lost Ones” are vital crowd-movers, while “Ex-Factor,” “To Zion,” and “Everything Is Everything” collect Hill’s penetrating insights on life, love, and motherhood. Percolating with hip-hop, reggae, and R&B, Miseducation was right on time and ahead of its time, encouraging a generation (including future stars like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar) that it’s okay to show your soul.