The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is Lauryn Hill's first and only solo album, released in 1998 after The Fugees broke up. An impressive debut, Miseducation was notable because of both its thematic matter and its production.
The album's lyrics spoke on the in-house turmoil within the Fugees alongside Lauryn's wider perspectives on life through subjects like love, womanhood and God, all of which were influenced by her being pregnant at the time.
Furthermore, the album was unique since Lauryn actually sang more than she rapped and didn't overly rely on samples or contemporary references, giving the record a more timeless quality than most other rap albums from The '90s.
The album's success was unprecedented for not only a female artist but an artist in her genres of rap and soul. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 and won several awards, including five Grammys from ten nominations, one of which was the Album of the Year. Three singles released in promotion for the album — "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Ex-Factor" and "Everything Is Everything" — were all worldwide hits.
Sadly, despite a promising start, Lauryn's career was quickly cut short. She suffered a Creator Breakdown, and apart from one Live Album, MTV Unplugged 2.0. (2002), she never released anything else, effectively disappearing from the public limelight.
In 2014 the record was added to the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically and aesthetically important."
In 2018, she starting touring in support of this album's twentieth anniversary.
- "Intro" (0:47)
- "Lost Ones" (5:33)
- "Ex-Factor" (5:26)
- "To Zion" (6:08)
- "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (5:19)
- "Superstar" (4:56)
- "Final Hour" (4:15)
- "When It Hurts So Bad" (5:42)
- "I Used To Love Him" (5:39)
- "Forgive Them Father" (5:15)
- "Every Ghetto, Every City" (5:14)
- "Nothing Even Matters" (5:49)
- "Everything Is Everything" (4:58)
- "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" (4:17)
US bonus tracks
- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (3:41)
- "Sweetest Thing (Mahogany Mix)" (4:42)
Import bonus/hidden tracks
- "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (3:41)
- "Tell Him" (4:38)
That was the trope that did Jezebel in
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "Doo Wop (That Thing)" she rallies against this trope, telling young women not to go with men they know will treat them badly as "respect is just a minimum". Interestingly, it also warns guys not to go with women that are only about "that thing".Showing off your ass cause you're thinking it's a trendGirlfriend, let me break it down for you againYou know I only say it cause I'm truly genuineDon't be a hard rock when you really are a gemBaby girl, respect is just a minimumNiggas fucked up and you still defending 'em
- Alliterative Title: "Forgive Them Father", "Everything Is Everything".
- As the Good Book Says...:
Gain the whole world for the price of your soulEvery man wanna act like he's exemptNeed to get down on his knees and repentCan't slick talk on the day of judgmentYour movement's similar to a serpent
- "Lost Ones" refers to Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36.
Talking out your neck, sayin' you're a ChristianA Muslim, sleeping with the ginNow that was the sin that did Jezebel in
- "Doowop That Thing"
Don't forget about the deen, Sirat al-Mustaqeem
- "Tell Him" incorporates several verses from "Corinthians 13".
- "Doowop That Thing" refers to the first Surah in the Qu'ran, about the straight path, or the way of life which makes God happy.
Our survival since our arrival documented in The BibleLike Moses and AaronThings gon' change, it's apparentAnd all the transparent gonna be seen throughLet God redeem you, keep your deen trueYou can get the green tooWatch out what you cling to, observe how a queen doAnd I remain calm reading the 73rd PsalmCause with all thatís going on I got the world in my palm
- "Final Hour":
- In "I Used To Love Him" Lauryn says her faith in God helped her get over a breakup.
- "Forgive Them Father" is literally full of biblical metaphors and references to religious icons and phrases. The title refers to Jesus Christ's request to God to forgive the people who crucified them. Throughout the song Lauryn namedrops Menelik note , Cain, Abel, Jesus and Judas.
- Beware the Nice Ones: "Forgive Them Father"Beware the false motives of othersBe careful of those who pretend to be brothersAnd you never suppose it's those who are closest to you
- Bilingual Bonus: "Forgive Them Father" and "Lost Ones" both feature singing in patois, the local dialect of Jamaica.
- Break Up Song: "When It Hurts So Bad", "I Used To Love Him" and "Ex-Factor"Is this just a silly gameThat forces you to act this way?Forces you to scream my nameThen pretend that you can't stayTell me, who I have to beTo get some reciprocityNo one loves you more than meAnd no one ever will
- Call-Back: "Superstar" reflects back on Lauryn's career with the Fugees and namedrops the first Fugees' album "Blunted On Reality". During "Final Hour" she also references The Score:Collecting residuals from "The Score"
- Call to Adventure: "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill":I hear so many cry for helpSearching outside of themselvesNow I know his strength is within meAnd deep in my heart, the answer it was in meAnd I made up my mind to define my own destiny
- Capitalism Is Bad: "Forgive Them Father"Get yours in this capitalistic systemSo many caught or got bought you can't list them
- Cover Version: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", a Frankie Valli cover which appeared earlier on the soundtrack of Conspiracy Theory (1997).
- Face on the Cover: Lauryn's face carved in wood.
- Genre Mashup: The album incorporates Hip-Hop, Gospel Music, Soul, Contemporary R&B and Reggae.
- God-Is-Love Songs: See As the Good Book Says... above.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: "Zion" addresses that Lauryn was advised to abort her pregnancy, as not to conflict with her blossoming career, but she actually chose for her child instead.I knew his life deserved a chanceBut everybody told me to be smart"Look at your career," they said"Lauryn baby use your head."But instead I chose to use my heart
- Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: "Zion" is accompanied by a gospel choir.
- Heavy Meta: "Superstar"Say what? Hip-Hop, started out in the heartYo, now everybody tryin to chart
- Hidden Track: A Cover Version of "Can't Take My Eyes off of You" (originally recorded for the Conspiracy Theory soundtrack) and the original song "Tell Him" appear at the end of the album following the Title Track, but go unlisted on the packaging. "Can't Take My Eyes off of You" ended up having its presence spoiled by the hype sticker (since it was included entirely to bank on its massive amounts of airplay), but the inclusion of "Tell Him" remained undisclosed.
- Homage: "To Zion" is a tribute to her first child of the same name.
- Karma: "Lost Ones"Consequence is no conincidence(...)Never underestimate those who you scarCause karma, karma, karma comes back to you hard!
- Literary Allusion Title: The title plays off the title The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933) by Carter G. Woodson, a sociological book about the notion that Afro-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools, causing them to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part.
- Mama Bear: "Lost Ones"Now understand "L-Boogie's" non-violentBut if a thing test me, run for my gunCan't take a threat to my new born son
- One-Word Title: "Superstar".
- Parental Love Song: "To Zion" is about Hill's first child Zion.
- Pep-Talk Song: "Everything Is Everything"Everything Is EverythingWhat is meant to be, will beAfter winter, must come springChange, it comes eventually
- The Power of Love: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Tell Him". All throughout the record a classroom discussion about love can be heard.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Hill reflects on her collaboration with fellow Fugees members Wyclef Jean, with whom she had a relationship, and Pras Michel. Several songs are even suspected to be subtle Take That! attacks on them, such as "Lost Ones", "Superstar", "Ex-Factor" and "Forgive Them Father". "Superstar" and "Every Ghetto, Every City" specifically mention her past and how her career took off. She also addresses her first pregnancy and dedicated "To Zion" to her first child.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Lost Ones", widely thought to be a Take That! at Wyclef Jean.My emancipation don't fit your equationI was on the humble you on every stationSome wan' play young Lauryn like she dumbBut remember not a game new under the sunEverything you did has already been done
- "Lost Ones" has a sample from "Super Hoe" by Boogie Down Productions and "Bam Bam" by Sister Nancy.
- "Ex-Factor" samples "Can It Be All So Simple?" by Wu-Tang Clan.
- "To Zion" interpolates "And The Feeling's Good" by José Feliciano.
- "Doo Wop (That Thing)" samples "Together Let's Find Love" by The Fifth Dimension.
- "Superstar" has a sample from "Light My Fire" by The Doors from The Doors.
- "I Used To Love Him" samples "Ice Cream" by Raekwon.
- "Forgive Them Father" relies on a sample from "Concrete Jungle" from Catch a Fire by Bob Marley.
- "Every Ghetto, Every City" samples "Heaven And Hell Is On Earth" by the 20th Century Steel Band.
Just as Christ was a superstar, you stupid sirThey hail you, then they nail you, no matter who you are
- The album cover is a shout-out to the cover of Bob Marley and the Wailers' album Burnin'.
- Near the end of "Lost Ones" the teacher asks the children in his classroom if they know any songs or films about love. As a result "Love" by Kirk Franklin, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston and Titanic and "Romeo and Juliet" (probably meaning 1996's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet) are mentioned.
- "Superstar" references Jesus Christ Superstar
- "Forgive Them Father" references the 1976 protests in Soweto, South Africa against apartheid, Geppetto from Pinocchio, Julius Caesar and Brutus.
- "Every Ghetto, Every City" references Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick and Biz Markie.
- "Everything Is Everything" references Cleopatra VII, Nefertiti and Betty El Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X.
- Singer Name Drop: Her name is mentioned during "Doowop That Thing", "Superstar" and "Final Hour"
- Special Guest: Carlos Santana plays guitar during "To Zion", "I Used To Love Him" features Mary J. Blige and "Nothing Even Matters" D' Angelo. "Everything Is Everything" also features the first commercial appearance of a very young John Legend on piano. Stephen Marley, son of Bob Marley, plays guitar on "Forgive Them Father", while dancehall artist Shelley Thunder also appears. The classroom skits between the tracks are done by Ras Baraka, a politician and activist, who is also a high school principal.
- Spelling Song: An unusual example. The track "Lost Ones" ends with a teacher telling his pupils to spell the word "love".
- Stock Sound Effects: Throughout the album recordings are heard from a classroom discussion between a teacher and his pupils about love.
- Take That!:
Let's stop pretend, the ones that pack pistols by they waist menCristal by the case men, still in they mother's basementThe pretty face men claiming that they did a bid menNeed to take care of they three or four kidsAnd they face a court case when the child support lateMoney taking and heart breaking, now you wonder why women hate menThe sneaky, silent menThe punk, domestic violence menQuick to shoot the semen, stop acting like boys and be menHow you gonna win when you ain't right within?
- "Lost Ones", "Superstar", "Ex-Factor" and "Forgive Them Father" are rumored to be aimed at her former Fugees band members.
- "Doowop That Thing" targets certain men:
Baby girl, respect is just a minimumNiggas fucked up and you still defending 'emNow, Lauryn is only humanDon't think I haven't been through the same predicamentLet it sit inside your head like a million women in Philly, PennIt's silly when girls sell their souls because it's inLook at where you be in, hair weaves like EuropeansFake nails done by KoreansGuys you know you'd better watch outSome girls, some girls are only aboutThat thing, that thing, that thingThat thing, that thing, that thing
- ... but the same song also targets certain women:
Yo hip-hop, started out in the heartUh-huh, yoNow everybody tryin to chart
- "Superstar" addresses the commercialization of hiphop:
- Title Track: "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill"