Newly christened “savior ofsoul” Lauryn Hill has written, recorded and produced a critically praised album, nominated for ten Grammies. What’smore, Hill was named Artist of the Year (1998) at the age of23.
Hill has a long history of flirting with fame. Bornin New Jersey, she wanted to sing and act in Hollywood. In hermid-teens she garnered a short stint as a troubled teen on thesoap “As the World Turns.” Slowly, Hill built up herresume. When Hill met musicians Wyclef Jean and Pras, theyformed The Fugees.
When Hill became pregnant by herfiance (son of legendary singer, Bob Marley) and gave birth toher son, Zion, she didn’t know whether she could continue tobe a successful musician and raise a family. Most said hercareer was doomed; Hill decided to produce something of herown.
“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” isnothing less than a masterpiece, comparable to an epic poem oflyrics and carefully arranged instrumentals.
The collection ofsongs and interludes is fueled by personal experience, and thelistener cannot help but be drawn into its drama. It isuniquely her own, but Hill’s album pertains toeveryone.
The magnum opus of the album is “ToZion,” a tale of Hill’s struggle with her son’s birth.She sings, “Woe this crazy circumstance/ I knew his lifedeserved a chance/ But everybody told me to be smart/ Lauryn,baby, use your head/ But instead I chose to use my heart…” In the song, guitar legend Carlos Santana playsbeautiful back up.
“Every Ghetto, Every City”is an autobiographical depiction of her hometown, with Hillemphasizing every detail of her childhood environment. Upbeatand lighthearted, it makes the listeners feel like they’reactually in Hill’s “New Jerusalem.”
Hill’salbum features a plethora of musicians besides Santana. MaryJ. Blige helps out in “I Used to Love Him.” D’Angeloand Fundisha Johnson harmonize and strengthen other songs.Guitars, trumpets, pianos, saxophones, flutes – Hillincorporates all these into her singing and rapping. Herpersonal opus and journey into a musical epiphany carries theaudience through a full range of emotions. Hill easily makesthe transition from rap to soul. The album as a whole is acommentary on society and its views.