The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Last updated

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
LaurynHillTheMiseducationofLaurynHillalbumcover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 25, 1998
Recorded1997 – June 1998
Studio
Genre
Length69:20
Label
Producer
Lauryn Hill chronology
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
(1998)
MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
(2002)
Singles from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  1. "Doo Wop (That Thing)"
    Released: July 7, 1998
  2. "Ex-Factor"
    Released: December 8, 1998
  3. "Everything Is Everything"
    Released: May 4, 1999

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut solo album by American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. It was released on August 25, 1998, by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records.

Lauryn Hill American singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, actress

Lauryn Noelle Hill is an American singer, songwriter and rapper, known for being a member of Fugees, and for her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which won many awards and broke several sales records. Raised mostly in South Orange, New Jersey, Hill began singing with her music-oriented family during her childhood. In high school, Hill was approached by Pras Michel for a band he started, which his friend, Wyclef Jean, soon joined. They renamed themselves the Fugees and released the albums Blunted on Reality (1994), and the Grammy Award–winning The Score (1996), which sold six million copies in the U.S. Hill rose to prominence with her African-American and Caribbean music influences, her rapping and singing, and her rendition of the hit "Killing Me Softly". Her tumultuous romantic relationship with Jean led to the split of the band in 1997, after which she began to focus on solo projects.

Ruffhouse Records is an American record label founded in 1989 by Chris Schwartz and Joe Nicolo as a joint venture with Columbia Records. In 1999, Schwartz and Nicolo closed the label, and Schwartz and Kevon Glickman continued with RuffNation Records. Ruffhouse's artist roster at the time of its original closing included The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Kris Kross, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Leela James.

Columbia Records American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

Contents

After touring with her former group Fugees, Hill became involved in a romantic relationship with Jamaican entrepreneur Rohan Marley, and shortly after, became pregnant with their child. This pregnancy, as well as other circumstances in her life, inspired Hill to make a solo album. Recording sessions for the album took place from late 1997 to June 1998 mainly at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, as Hill collaborated with a group of musicians known as New Ark in writing and producing the songs.

Fugees was an American hip hop group who rose to fame in the mid-1990s. Their repertoire included elements of hip hop, soul and Caribbean music, particularly reggae. The members of the group were rapper/singer/producer Wyclef Jean, rapper/singer/producer Lauryn Hill, and rapper/producer Pras Michel. Deriving their name from a shortening of the word "refugees", Jean and Michel are Haitian while Hill is American.

Rohan Marley Jamaican entrepreneur and football player

Rohan Anthony Marley is an entrepreneur and former gridiron football player. He is the son of reggae artist Bob Marley and Janet Hunt. He was born during his father's marriage to Rita, and went to live with her from the age of four until moving to live with Marley's mother after his father died of cancer in Miami in 1981.

Kingston, Jamaica Capital city in Surrey, Jamaica

Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a neo soul and R&B album with some songs based in hip hop soul and reggae. Its lyrics touch upon Hill's pregnancy and the turmoil within the Fugees, along with themes of love and God. The album's title was inspired by the film and autobiographical novel The Education of Sonny Carson , and Carter G. Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro .

Neo soul is a genre of popular music. The term was coined by music industry entrepreneur Kedar Massenburg during the late 1990s to market and describe a style of music that emerged from soul and contemporary R&B. Heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, hip hop and electronic to pop, fusion, and African music. It has been noted by music writers for its traditional R&B influences, conscious-driven lyrics, and strong female presence.

Contemporary R&B is a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and electronic music.

Hip hop soul is a subgenre of contemporary R&B music, most popular during the early and mid 1990s, which fuses R&B/gospel singing with hip hop musical production. The subgenre had evolved from a previous R&B subgenre, new jack swing, which had incorporated hip-hop influences into R&B music. By contrast, hip hop soul is, as described in The Encyclopedia of African American Music, "quite literally soul singing over hip hop grooves".

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 422,624 copies in its first week, which broke a record for first-week sales by a female artist. It was promoted with three hit singles: "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Ex-Factor", and "Everything Is Everything". "Doo Wop (That Thing)", the lead single, peaked at number one in the US, with the latter two singles peaking within the top 40. To further promote the album, Hill made televised performances on Saturday Night Live and the Billboard Music Awards before embarking on a sold-out, worldwide concert tour.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Doo Wop (That Thing) 1998 single by Lauryn Hill

"Doo Wop " is the debut solo single from American recording artist Lauryn Hill. The song is taken from her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Written and produced by Hill, the song was released as the album's lead single in July 1998. It was Hill's first and only Billboard Hot 100 number-one, to date. The song won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song at the 1999 Grammy Awards on February 24, 1999. "Doo Wop " debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the tenth song in the chart's history to do so, and the first debut single to do so.

Ex-Factor single by Lauryn Hill

"Ex-Factor" is the second single from American recording artist Lauryn Hill from her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998). The song incorporates elements of R&B, neo soul and hip hop soul. Released by Ruffhouse and Columbia Records, the song features a sample of "Can It Be All So Simple" by Wu-Tang Clan.

Critics generally praised The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill for Hill's presentation of a woman's view on life and love, along with her artistic range. At the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill earned 10 nominations, winning five awards, making Hill the first woman to receive that many nominations and awards in one night. The album's success propelled Hill to international superstardom, and contributed to bringing hip hop and neo soul to the forefront of popular music. New Ark, however, felt Hill and her record label did not properly credit the group on the album; a lawsuit filed by the group was settled out of court in 2001.

41st Annual Grammy Awards award ceremony

The 41st Annual Grammy Awards were held on February 24, 1999, at Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the year 1998. Lauryn Hill was the main recipient, winning a total of 5 awards including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Her album was the first hip hop act ever to win the coveted award. The ceremony was known as the "Grammy Year of Women", because every artist nominated for Album of the Year was female. Madonna won four awards and opened the show with her performance of "Nothing Really Matters" while musicians the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain won two apiece. Celine Dion also received two awards both for "My Heart Will Go On", which received a total of four awards. It is widely remembered for Ricky Martin's performance of "La Copa De La Vida"/ "The Cup of Life".

Since its original release, the record has been ranked in numerous best-album lists, with a number of critics regarding it as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2013, the album reached sales of 8 million copies in the US and over 19 million copies worldwide. Two years later, it was included by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry. It remains Hill's only studio album.

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The library's functions are overseen by the librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress claims to be the largest library in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

National Recording Registry list of sound recordings

The National Recording Registry is a list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States." The registry was established by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, which created the National Recording Preservation Board, whose members are appointed by the Librarian of Congress. The recordings preserved in the United States National Recording Registry form a registry of recordings selected yearly by the National Recording Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress.

Background

In 1996, Lauryn Hill met Rohan Marley while touring as a member of the Fugees. The two gradually formed a close relationship, and while on tour, Hill became pregnant with his child. [1] The pregnancy and other circumstances in her life inspired her to record a solo album. After contributing to fellow Fugees member Wyclef Jean's 1997 solo record The Carnival , Hill took time off from touring and recording due to her pregnancy and cases of writer's block. [2] This pregnancy, however, renewed Hill's creativity, as she recalled in an interview several years later: "When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create. I had the desire to write in a capacity that I hadn't done in a while. I don't know if it's a hormonal or emotional thing ... I was very in touch with my feelings at the time." Of the early writing process, Hill said, "Every time I got hurt, every time I was disappointed, every time I learned, I just wrote a song." [3]

While inspired, Hill wrote over thirty songs in her attic studio in South Orange, New Jersey. [4] Many of these songs drew upon the turbulence in the Fugees, as well as past love experiences. [5] In the summer of 1997, as Hill was due to give birth to her first child, she was requested to write a song for gospel musician CeCe Winans. [4] Several months later, she went to Detroit to work with soul singer Aretha Franklin, writing and producing her single "A Rose is Still a Rose". Franklin would later have Hill direct the song's music video. [6] Shortly after this, Hill did writing work for Whitney Houston. [7] Having written songs for artists in gospel, hip hop, and R&B, she drew on these influences and experiences to record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. [8]

Recording and production

Julian Marley (pictured in 2010) was one of several members from Bob Marley's family who visited the album's recording sessions in Jamaica. Julian Marley (Cascais 2010) 1.jpg
Julian Marley (pictured in 2010) was one of several members from Bob Marley's family who visited the album's recording sessions in Jamaica.

Hill began recording The Miseducation in late 1997 at Chung King Studios in New York City, [9] and completed it in June 1998 at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. [10] In an interview, Hill described the first day of recording, stating: "The first day in the studio I ordered every instrument I ever fell in love with: harps, strings, timpani drums, organs, clarinets. It was my idea to record it so the human element stayed in. I didn't want it to be too technically perfect." [11] Initially, Jean did not support Hill recording a solo album, but eventually offered to help as a producer, which she did not accept. [12] [13] Aside from doing work at Chung King Studios, Hill also recorded at Perfect Pair Studios in New Jersey, as well as Sony Studios, [14] with some songs having different elements recorded at different studios. [14] The bulk of the album, however, was recorded at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, the studio built by reggae musician Bob Marley. [15] Regarding this shift in environment, Hill stated: "When I started recording in New York and New Jersey, lots of people were talking to me about going different routes. I could feel people up in my face, and I was picking up on bad vibes. I wanted a place where there was good vibes, where I was among family, and it was Tuff Gong." [16] Many members of the Marley family were present in the studio during the recording sessions, among them Julian Marley, who added guitar elements to "Forgive Them Father." [15]

In an interview, recording engineer Gordon "Commissioner Gordon" Williams recalled the recording of "Lost Ones", stating: "It was our first morning in Jamaica and I saw all of these kids gathered around Lauryn, screaming and dancing. Lauryn was in the living room next to the studio with about fifteen Marley grandchildren around her, the children of Ziggy, and Stephen, and Julian, and she starts singing this rap verse, and all the kids start repeating the last word of each line, chiming in very spontaneously because they were so into the song." [17] Columbia Records considered bringing in an outside producer for the album and had early talks with RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. However, Hill was adamant about writing, arranging, and producing the album herself: "It would have been more difficult to articulate to other people. Hey, it's my album. Who can tell my story better than me?" [18] She recalled Ruffhouse Records executive Chris Swartz ensuring her artistic freedom while recording the album: "I had total control of the album. Chris Swartz at Ruffhouse, my label, said, 'Listen, you've never done anything stupid thus far, so let me let you do your thing.'" [19]

Music and lyrics

A neo soul [20] [21] and R&B album, [22] The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill incorporates musical styles such as soul, hip hop, and reggae. [23] Some songs are based in hip hop soul. [24] "When It Hurts So Bad" is musically old roots reggae mixed with soul. While mostly in English, "Forgive Them Father" and "Lost Ones" both feature singing in patois, which is the common dialect in Jamaica. Although heavily R&B, the song "Superstar" contains an interpolation of the rock song "Light My Fire" by The Doors. Hill said that she "didn't want to come out with a [Fugees] type of sound", but create "something that was uniquely and very clearly a Lauryn Hill album." [19] She also said that she did not intend for the album's sound to be commercially appealing: "There's too much pressure to have hits these days. Artists are watching Billboard instead of exploring themselves. Look at someone like Aretha, she didn't hit with her first album, but she was able to grow up and find herself. I wanted to make honest music. I don't like things to be too perfect, or too polished. People may criticize me for that, but I grew up listening to Al Green and Sam Cooke. When they hit a high note, you actually felt it." [25]

Much of Hill's lyrics dealt with motherhood, the Fugees, reminiscence, love, heartbreak, and God. [4] Commenting on the album's gospel content, Hill stated "Gospel music is music inspired by the gospels. In a huge respect, a lot of this music turned out to be just that. During this album, I turned to the Bible and wrote songs that I drew comfort from." [26] Several of the album's songs, such as "Lost Ones," "Superstar," "Ex-Factor" and "Forgive Them Father" were widely speculated as direct attacks at Fugee members Wyclef and Pras. [27] [28] "Ex-Factor" was originally intended for a different artist, however, Hill decided to keep it after it was completed, due to its personal content. [29] Although a large portion of the album's love songs would turn out to be bitter from Hill's previous relationship, "Nothing Even Matters," [30] a duet performed by Hill and R&B singer D'Angelo, showcased a brighter, more intimate perspective on the subject. The song was inspired by Hill's relationship with Rohan Marley. Speaking about "Nothing Even Matters"' lyrics, Hill remarked: "I wanted to make a love song, á la Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, and give people a humanistic approach to love again without all the physicality and overt sexuality." [31]

"To Zion," among the more introspective tracks on the album, spoke about how Hill's family comes before her career [32] and her decision to have her first child, even though many at the time encouraged her to abort the pregnancy, so as to not conflict with her burgeoning career. [28] In an interview she discussed the song's origin and significance, commenting "Names wouldn't come when I was ready to have him. The only name that came to me was Zion. I was like, 'is Zion too much of a weight to carry?' But this little boy, man. I would say he personally delivered me from my emotional and spiritual drought. He just replenished my newness. When he was born, I felt like I was born again." [33] She further stated: "I wanted it to be a revolutionary song about a spiritual movement, and also about my spiritual change, going from one place to another because of my son." [34]

Throughout The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, several interludes of a teacher speaking to what is implied to be a classroom of children are played. The "teacher" was played by American poet and politician Ras Baraka speaking to a group of children in the living room of Hill's New Jersey home. [28] Hill requested that Baraka speak to the children about the concept of love, to which he improvised in the lecture. [28] Slant Magazine 's Paul Schrodt remarked on the title's reference to Carter G. Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro : "[Hill] adopts Woodson's thesis and makes it part of her own artistic process. Like the songs themselves, the intro/outro classroom scenes suggest a larger community working to redefine itself." [35] Along with Woodson's book, the album's title was inspired by the film and autobiographical novel The Education of Sonny Carson . [28]

Release and sales

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released on August 25, 1998. [32] In its first week, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 [36] and sold 422,624 copies. The album's chart debut broke the record for first-week sales by a female artist, previously held by Madonna's Ray Of Light . [37] It topped the Billboard 200 for a second consecutive week, during which it sold 265,000 copies. [38] In the United States, the album sold one million copies in less than a month and 2.4 million copies by December. [39] It spent 81 weeks on the Billboard 200, [40] and topped the Billboard Year-End Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. [41]

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was promoted with three singles—"Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Ex-Factor", and "Everything Is Everything"—all of which became hits and produced popular music videos. [42] The album's sales increased after Hill's appearance at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, as it sold 234,000 more copies in the week of March 3, 1999, [43] and 200,000 copies the following week. [44] By August, it had sold 10 million copies worldwide, including nearly 700,000 in Canada. [45] On December 17, 2001, it was certified 8x platinum by the RIAA. [46] In April 2002, Columbia said that the album had sold 12 million copies worldwide, [47] and in 2009, its global sales were reported to be 19 million copies. [48] By 2013, it had sold more than eight million copies in the US. [49]

Critical reception

Professional reviews (1998)
Review scores
SourceRating
Entertainment Weekly A [50]
The Guardian Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [51]
Los Angeles Times Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [52]
Melody Maker Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [53]
Muzik Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [54]
NME 8/10 [55]
Pitchfork 8/10 [56]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [57]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [58]
Spin 9/10 [59]

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill received highly positive reviews from contemporary critics; [60] according to Los Angeles Times journalist Geoff Boucher, it was the most acclaimed album of 1998. Reviewers frequently praised Hill's presentation of a female's view on life and love. [39] Eric Weisbard from Spin called her a "genre-bender" whose confident singing and rapping was balanced by vulnerable themes and sentiment. [59] In The New York Times , Ann Powers found it "miraculous" and "exceptional" for Hill to use "her faith, based more in experience and feeling than in doctrine," as a means of connecting "the sacred to the secular in music that touches the essence of soul." [61] AllMusic's John Bush was impressed by how she produced most of the album, "not as a crossover record, but as a collection of overtly personal and political statements", while demonstrating "performing talents, vocal range, and songwriting smarts". [32] David Browne, writing in Entertainment Weekly , called it "an album of often-astonishing power, strength, and feeling", crediting Hill with "easily flowing from singing to rapping, evoking the past while forging a future of her own". [50] Dream Hampton of The Village Voice said she seamlessly "travels her realm within any given song", [62] while Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot deemed the record a "vocal tour de force" with arrangements that "bristle with great ideas". [63]

In a less enthusiastic review, Q magazine's Dom Phillips felt the music's only flaw was "a lack of memorable melody" on some songs that did not utilize interesting samples, [57] while John Mulvey from NME quibbled about what he felt were redundant skits and Hill's "propensity" for histrionics and declarations of "how brilliant God is" on an otherwise "essential" album. [55] Pitchfork 's Neil Lieberman found some of the ballads tedious and the melodies "cheesy". [56] Citing "Lost Ones" and "Superstar" as highlights, Village Voice reviewer Robert Christgau deemed it the "PC record of the year", featuring exceptionally understated production and skillful rapping but also inconsistent lyrics, average singing, and superfluous skits. [64] He appreciated the "knowledge [and] moral authority" of Hill's perspective and values, although he lamented her appraisal of God on record. [65] In the Los Angeles Times, Soren Baker believed Hill was more effective as a critical rapper than a singer on the more emotional songs, where her voice was "too thin to carry such heavy subject matter". [52]

Accolades

At the end of 1998, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was voted the second best record of the year in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics published in The Village Voice. [66] Hill was nominated ten times for the 1999 Grammy Awards, making her the first woman to ever be nominated that many times in one year. She won five Grammys, including awards in the Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Album categories. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, [67] making it the first hip hop album to ever receive that award. Hill set a new record in the industry, as she also became the first woman to win five Grammys in one night. It also earned her nominations at the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Album, and Outstanding Song ("Doo Wop (That Thing)"). [68] At the Billboard Music Awards, the record won in the R&B Album of the Year category, while "Doo Wop" won Best R&B/Urban New Artist Clip, [69] and at the 1999 American Music Awards, Hill won the award for Best New Soul/R&B artist. [70] She also won a Soul Train award and received a nomination for Best International Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards. [71]

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has since appeared on a number of lists ranking the greatest albums ever; according to Acclaimed Music, it is the 154th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists. [72]

PublicationCountryAccolade [73] YearRank
About.com United States100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums [74] 200843
Best Rap Albums of 1998 [75] 20081
Associated PressThe 10 Best Albums of the 1990s1999*
Blender 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die2003*
The 100 Greatest American Albums of All time200275
CD Now The 10 (+5) Essential Records of the 90s2002*
Ego trip Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–9819994
Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–9819995
Entertainment Weekly The 100 Best Albums from 1983 to 200820082
GearThe 100 Greatest Albums of the Century199988
Ink BlotBest Albums of the 90s20009
Kitsap Sun Top 200 Albums of the Last 40 Years200565
Nude as the News The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s199940
Pause & Play10 Albums of the 90's2003*
Albums Inducted into a Time Capsule2003*
The 90s Top 100 Essential Albums19997
Robert Dimery 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die [76] 2005*
Rolling Stone 50 Essential Female Albums200232
The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003312
The Essential Recordings of the 90s1999*
100 Best Albums of the Nineties [77] 20115
The Source The Critics Top 100 Black Music Albums of All Time [78] 200610
Spin Top 100 (+5) Albums of the Last 20 Years200549
Top 90 Albums of the 90s199928
Tom Moon 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die 2008*
VH1 The 100 Greatest Albums of R 'N' R200137
Vibe 150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era2007*
51 Albums representing a Generation, a Sound and a Movement2004*
BBC Radio United KingdomStuart Maconie's Critical List199917
Channel 4 The 100 Greatest Albums2005*
Elvis Costello 500 Albums You Need2000*
Gary Mulholland261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco2006*
The Guardian 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die2007*
Hip-Hop Connection The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995–2005200539
Metro Times Top 10 Albums of the 90s19998
Mojo The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993–2006200667
The Mojo Collection2007*
The New Nation Top 100 Albums by Black Artists200310
Q 90 Albums of the 90s1999*
The Ultimate Music Collection200541
Top 100 Albums Ever [79] 200320
The Rough Guide Soul: 100 Essential CDs2000*
Aftenposten NorwayTop 50 Albums of All Time199948
Eggen & KartvedtThe Guide to the 100 Important Rock Albums1999*
Helsingin Sanomat Finland50th Anniversary of Rock20042
Musik Express GermanyThe 50 Best Albums of the 90s200523
Wiener AustriaThe 100 Best Albums of the 20th Century1999100
FNAC FranceThe 1000 Best Albums of All Time2008420
Rock & FolkThe Best Albums from 1963 to 19991999*
Dance de LuxSpainThe 25 Best Hip-Hop Records200112
Rock de LuxThe 150 Best Albums from the 90s2000132
Juice AustraliaThe 100 (+34) Greatest Albums of the 90s199955
BabylonGreeceThe 50 Best Albums of the 1990s199945
Pure PopMexicoThe 50 Best Albums of the 90s200040
The SunCanadaThe Best Albums from 1971 to 20002001*
(*) designates lists that are unordered.

Tour

Hill toured worldwide to promote the album, starting at Budokan (pictured) in Japan. Nippon Budokan 2010.jpg
Hill toured worldwide to promote the album, starting at Budokan (pictured) in Japan.

Initially, there was no immediate tour planned due to the album not needing the promotion, and Hill was pregnant again with a child due in September 1998. [70] Her first live performances of the songs were at Saturday Night Live and the Billboard Music Awards. [80] In January 1999, Hill recruited a band and began rehearsals for what would become The Miseducation Tour. [81] As soon as the tour was announced, tickets immediately sold out. [70]

The tour began at Budokan in Tokyo on January 21, 1999. Hill performed there again the following night, and played at two other Tokyo venues in the following week. [70] One week later, she flew to London for her performance at the Brixton Academy on February 8, 1999. [70] With 20 US dates total, [82] the American part of the tour, which featured Outkast as the opening act, started on February 18 in Detroit, and ended on April 1, 1999, at Hill's hometown, Newark, New Jersey. [82] She began the tour's 14-date European leg on May 13, when she performed at the Oslo Spektrum in Norway, closing on June 2 at the Manchester Arena in England. [83] She then returned to Japan, where the tour was completed. [71]

Hill did not want an extensive tour because of obligations to her family and the difficulties she experienced touring with the Fugees in 1996, which she found desensitizing and isolating. According to Hill biographer Chris Nickson in 1999, "there was the possibility of more dates being added ... but it was unlikely that Lauryn would be willing to make the tour more grueling and draining. She'd come to know that there was much more to life than a career." [71]

Lawsuits

Though The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was largely a collaborative work between Hill and a group of musicians known as New Ark (Vada Nobles, Rasheem Pugh, Tejumold Newton, and Johari Newton), there was "label pressure to do the Prince thing," wherein all tracks would be credited as "written and produced by" the artist with little outside help. [12] [28] While recording the album, when Hill was asked about providing contracts or documentation to the musicians, she replied: "We all love each other. This ain't about documents. This is blessed." [12]

In 1998, New Ark filed a 50-page lawsuit against Hill, her management and her record label, stating that Hill "used their songs and production skills, but failed to properly credit them for the work." [84] The musicians claimed to be the primary songwriters on two tracks, and major contributors on several others, though Gordon Williams, the album's mixer and engineer, described the project as a "powerfully personal effort by Hill ... It was definitely her vision." [39] In response to the lawsuit, Hill claimed that New Ark took advantage of her success. [85] New Ark requested partial writing credits, and monetary reimbursement. [86] The suit was eventually settled out of court in February 2001 for a reported $5 million. [28]

In 2000, Vere Isaac filed suit against Hill in New York, with the complaint that he wrote the melody of the single "A Rose Is Still a Rose" when he worked with Hill and Aretha Franklin on the single's sessions. [87]

Influence and legacy

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [32]
Christgau's Consumer Guide Five Pointed Star Solid.svg Five Pointed Star Solid.svg Five Pointed Star Solid.svg [88]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [89]
The Great Rock Discography 9/10 [90]
Pitchfork 9.5/10 [91]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [92]
Slant Magazine Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [35]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 [93]
XXL 5/5 [94]

With the album's success, Hill became a national media icon, as magazines ranging from Time to Esquire to Teen People vied to place her on their front covers. In a February 8, 1999, Time cover-story, Hill was credited for helping fully assimilate hip hop into mainstream music, making her the first hip hop artist to ever appear on the magazine's front cover. [95] [96] In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked the record at number 314 in the magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list, its entry reading, "Hill took Seventies soul and made it boom and signify to the hip-hop generation on her solo debut." [97] Jon Caramanica, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), called it "as earnest, unpretentious, and pleasantly sloppy an album as any woman of the hip-hop generation has ever made", and said that, by appealing to a wide spectrum of listeners with hip hop filtered through a "womanist lens", the album propelled Hill to superstardom "of epic proportions" and "the focal point at hip-hop's crossover into the mainstream." [92] Music journalist Peter Shapiro cited it as "the ultimate cross-over album of the hip-hop era." [98]

Along with Erykah Badu's 1997 debut Baduizm , The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was also an important release in the neo soul music scene. [99] According to Ebony magazine, it brought the neo soul genre to the forefront of popular music, [100] and became the genre's most critically acclaimed and popular album. [24] According to the Encyclopedia of African American Music (2010), "some tracks are based more in hip hop soul than neo soul, but the record is filled with live musicians and layered harmonies, and therefore it is a trendsetting record that connects modern hip hop, R&B, and classic soul music together, creating groundwork for what followed it in the neo soul genre." [24] On its fifteenth anniversary, American rapper Nas reviewed the album for XXL , hailing it as a model for artists of all genres to follow and "a timeless record, pure music ... It represents the time period—a serious moment in Black music, when young artists were taking charge and breaking through doors." [94] In 2015, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry. [101]

Miseducation remains Hill's only studio album. After its success, the singer shunned her celebrity and pursued a private life while raising six children, but both personal and professional difficulties followed. As Miami New Times journalist Juliana Accioly explained, "She was reported to have spent years on a spiritual quest while dealing with bipolar disorder. She was sued over songwriting credits. She served a three-month prison sentence in 2013 for tax evasion. She was deemed a diva for wanting to be called 'Ms. Hill' and criticized for her erratic performances." In October 2018, Hill embarked on a concert tour commemorating Miseducation's 20th anniversary. In its anticipation, Accioly reflected on the album in the context of the Me Too movement of recent years: "Against that backdrop, Hill's own descriptions of mistreatment carry validation and support for victims. … For women who came up during Miseducation's zenith, attending Hill's 2018 performance could serve as a measure of how much the world around them has changed — and how many things remain the same. Her crash course on life is still very much relevant: 'It could all be so simple,' but it's not." [102]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Intro"  Lauryn Hill 0:47
2."Lost Ones" Lauryn Noelle Hill 5:33
3."Ex-Factor"HillHill5:26
4."To Zion" (featuring Carlos Santana)Hill
  • Hill
  • Guevara
6:08
5."Doo Wop (That Thing)"HillHill5:19
6."Superstar"
Hill4:56
7."Final Hour"HillHill4:15
8."When It Hurts So Bad"HillHill5:42
9."I Used to Love Him" (featuring Mary J. Blige)HillHill5:39
10."Forgive Them Father"HillHill5:15
11."Every Ghetto, Every City"HillHill5:14
12."Nothing Even Matters" (featuring D'Angelo)HillHill5:49
13."Everything Is Everything"
  • Hill
  • J. Newton
Hill4:58
14."The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"
  • Hill
  • Tejumold Newton
Hill4:17
Total length:69:20

Personnel

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes. [103]

Musicians

  • Al Anderson – guitar (track: 12)
  • Tom Barney – bass (tracks: 11–13)
  • Bud Beadle – alto/tenor saxophone, flute (track: 7)
  • Robert Browne – guitar (track: 2)
  • Rudy Byrd – percussion (tracks: 3, 6, 8)
  • Che Guevara – drum programming (tracks: 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13)
  • Che Pope – drum programming (track: 8)
  • Jared Crawford – live drums (track: 4)
  • D'Angelo Rhodes piano (track: 12)
  • DJ Supreme – DJ (track: 5)
  • Francis Dunnery  – guitar (tracks: 11, 12)
  • Paul Fakhourie – bass (track: 3)
  • Dean Frasier  – saxophone (tracks: 5, 10)
  • Loris Holland – keys (tracks: 12, 14); clavinet (track: 11)
  • John Legend  – piano (track: 13)
  • Indigo Quartet – strings (tracks: 5, 13, 14)
  • Julian Marley – guitar (track: 10)
  • Chris Meredith – bass (tracks: 8, 10, 12)
  • Johari Newton – guitar (tracks: 2, 3, 8)
  • Tejumold Newton – piano (track: 3)
  • Vada Nobles – drum programming (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13)
  • Arun Pandian – guitar (track 16 - Tell Him)
  • Grace Paradise – harp (tracks: 4, 6, 8)
  • James Poyser  – bass (tracks: 2, 4, 9); keys (tracks: 3, 5, 6, 12)
  • Everol Ray – trumpet (tracks: 5,10)
  • Kevin Robinson – trumpet, flugelhorn (track: 7)
  • Ronald "Nambo" Robinson – trombone (tracks: 5, 10)
  • Matthew Rubano – bass (tracks: 9, 13)
  • Carlos Santana  – guitar (track: 4)
  • Earl Chinna Smith  – guitar (tracks: 2,10)
  • Andrew Smith – guitar (track: 7)
  • Squiddly Ranks – live drums (track: 8)
  • John R. Stephens  – piano (track: 13)
  • Elizabeth Valletti – harp (track: 7)
  • Fayyaz Virti – trombone (track: 7)
  • Joe Wilson – piano (track: 14)
  • Stuart Zender  – bass (track: 7)

Production

  • Errol Brown – assistant recording engineer (tracks: 2, 10)
  • Che Guevara – co-producer (tracks: 2, 4)
  • Lauryn Hill – producer, executive producer (tracks: 1-16)
  • Matt Howe – recorder (track: 7)
  • Storm Jefferson – recorder (tracks: 8, 9, 11, 12); mix engineer (track: 8); assistant mix engineer (tracks: 2, 9)
  • Ken Johnson – recorder (track: 9); assistant recording engineer (track: 4)
  • Vada Nobles – co-producer (track: 2)
  • Tony Prendatt – recorder (tracks: 6, 7, 9, 12–14); engineer (track: 14)
  • Warren Riker – recorder (tracks: 4, 5, 8, 12); mix engineer (tracks: 2, 9)
  • Jamie Seigel – assistant mix engineer (track: 4)
  • Greg Thompson – assistant mix engineer (track: 3)
  • Neil Tucker – assistant recording engineer (track: 7)
  • Chip Verspyck – assistant recording engineer (tracks: 3, 7)
  • Brian Vibberts  – assistant engineer (tracks: 6, 10, 12)
  • Gordon "Commissioner Gordon" Williams  – recorder (tracks: 2 – 6, 8 -12); engineer (tracks: 9, 14); mixer (tracks: 2, 4 – 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14)
  • Johny Wyndrx – recorder (track: 4)

Vocalists

  • Lauryn Hill – vocals (tracks: 2-16)
  • Mary J. Blige  – vocals (track: 9)
  • D'Angelo  – vocals (track: 12)
  • Shelley Thunder – vocals (track: 10)
  • Kenny Bobien – backing vocals (track: 4)
  • Chinah – backing vocals (track: 9)
  • Jenni Fujita – backing vocals (track: 5)
  • Fundisha Johnson – backing vocals (track: 5)
  • Sabrina Johnston  – backing vocals (track: 4)
  • Jenifer McNeil – backing vocals (track: 9)
  • Rasheem Pugh – backing vocals (track: 5)
  • Lenesha Randolph  – backing vocals (tracks: 4, 5, 9, 13)
  • Ramon Rivera – backing vocals (track: 9)
  • Earl Robinson – backing vocals (track: 4)
  • Andrea Simmons – backing vocals (tracks: 4,9)
  • Eddie Stockley – backing vocals (track: 4)
  • Ahmed Wallace – backing vocals (tracks: 9,13)
  • Tara Watkins – backing vocals (track: 9)
  • Rachel Wilson – backing vocals (track: 9)
  • Chuck Young – backing vocals (track: 3)

Charts

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA) [130] 2× Platinum140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria) [131] Gold25,000*
Belgium (BEA) [132] Platinum50,000*
Canada (Music Canada) [133] 7× Platinum700,000^
France (SNEP) [134] 2× Gold200,000*
Japan (RIAJ) [135] Million1,000,000 [136]
Norway (IFPI Norway) [137] Platinum50,000*
Netherlands (NVPI) [138] Platinum100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ) [139] 3× Platinum45,000^
Sweden (GLF) [140] Platinum80,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland) [141] Platinum50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [142] 3× Platinum1,000,000 [143]
United States (RIAA) [46] 8× Platinum8,000,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI) [144] 2× Platinum2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

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