20 Years Of 'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill'

35 minutes ago

With Eric Westervelt

Celebrating 20 years of the groundbreaking album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”


Joan Morgan, author of “She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” (@milfinainteasy)

Frannie Kelley, co-host and producer of “Microphone Check,” a podcast about hip-hop history and culture. Former NPR reporter. (@frannie_kelley)

Music From The Hour

(Editor’s Note: This album contains explicit language that some listeners may find offensive.)

From The Reading List

Excerpt from “She Begat This” by Joan Morgan

Unlike The Roots, who were considered masters of live performance, the early Fugees shows were a mess, peppered with “cultural” acts of randomness meant to illustrate the group’s ties and affinity to the Caribbean, and Haiti in particular. “Sometimes they’d bring a goat out on stage to give props to their Haitian roots. It was weird stuff. The audience would laugh at them every time. People thought they were a joke.” The laughter, however, would quickly end as soon as the crowds heard Hill crooning from backstage, a strategy that the group quickly implemented. “Clef and Pras would come out rhyming and people would still be drinking and talking like, ‘Whatever. These dudes is whack.’ Then Lauryn would start singing from behind stage and the audience would go quiet, every f—ing time. That’s when it would be like, ‘Okay. Now let’s start the show.’ ”

The demand for Lauryn to go solo would start almost immediately, but Jackson, who watched the group’s collaboration process almost from the beginning, felt assertions that Lauryn was carrying them with her talent were at best short-sighted. “I think the idea that her talent was being pimped to make a name for Clef and Pras began with the live shows. Then the press would write reviews of songs and claim Clef was a musical genius, which he is—that (guy) can play every instrument, sing in four or five different languages—but then they’d start to write things that made it seem like Lauryn was just an instrument to his genius. Really, they were more like The Beatles. Clef was Paul and Lauryn was John. They were best together, but apart, they were amazing too.” Time would bear this out. Wyclef Jean’s first solo effort, The Carnival, was released in 1997 to wide critical acclaim and eventually certified at double platinum with two Grammy nominations. Miseducation followed it with ten nominations and a record-setting five wins, breaking the one set for female artists by Carole King and her album Tapestry in 1971.

Excerpted from SHE BEGAT THIS by Joan Morgan. Copyright © 2018 by Joan Morgan. Reprinted with permission of Atria Books / 37 Ink, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Jezebel: “Joan Morgan on Her New Book and 20 Years of Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation” — “In spite of and perhaps because of her greatness, Lauryn Hill left many of her fans conflicted. Released on August 25, 1998, her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, gave depth and cathartic dimension to the subject of black women in love. She sang about pulling away from an ex and finding salvation in motherhood, rapped about self-improvement, and presented these stories as tense reflections of her own entangled life, without fully disclosing her truth. ‘The album at its core was always about love, both the deciphering of it and the search for it,’ Joan Morgan writes in her new book.”

Twenty years ago this month, Lauryn Hill released her masterful, hugely influential solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Fierce, complicated, beautifully contradictory, the iconic album continues to have a giant impact on hip-hop, R&B and pop today.

This hour, On Point: “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

— Eric Westervelt

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.