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Music / The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

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And every time I try to be, what someone else has thought of me/ so caught up I wasn't able to achieve/ But deep in my heart, the answer was in me/ And I made up my mind to define my own destiny

"Lauryn Hill was groundbreaking because for the first time since Salt-N-Pepa the world was hearing a heterosexual woman rap and couldn't believe it. This is a masterpiece of a record. I know there's a lot of singing on there, but there's a lot of rapping, too. People don't have a problem with conscious rap; they have a problem with conscious beats. If you make some ignorant beats, you can say all the smart shit you want."

Chris Rock, who put The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on #23 in his personal top 25 favorite Hip-Hop albums, Rolling Stone, 2006.
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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 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 was a critical and commercial success and won several awards, including five Grammy's, one of which was the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Ex-Factor" and "Everything Is Everything" were 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. The album was listed at nr. #314 in Rolling Stone's Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2014 the record was also added to the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically and aesthetically important."

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In 2018, she starting touring in support of this album's twentieth anniversary.

Tracklist

  1. "Intro" (0:47)
  2. "Lost Ones" (5:33)
  3. "Ex-Factor" (5:26)
  4. "To Zion" (6:08)
  5. "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (5:19)
  6. "Superstar" (4:56)
  7. "Final Hour" (4:15)
  8. "When It Hurts So Bad" (5:42)
  9. "I Used To Love Him" (5:39)
  10. "Forgive Them Father" (5:15)
  11. "Every Ghetto, Every City" (5:14)
  12. "Nothing Even Matters" (5:49)
  13. "Everything Is Everything" (4:58)
  14. "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" (4:17)

US bonus tracks

  1. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (3:41)
  2. "Sweetest Thing (Mahogany Mix)" (4:42)

Import bonus/hidden tracks

  1. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (3:41)
  2. "Tell Him" (4:38)

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Doowop These Tropes

  • 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 trend
    Girlfriend, let me break it down for you again
    You know I only say it cause I'm truly genuine
    Don't be a hard rock when you really are a gem
    Baby girl, respect is just a minimum
    Niggas fucked up and you still defending 'em
  • Alliterative Title: "Forgive Them Father", "Everything Is Everything".
  • As the Good Book Says...:
    • "Lost Ones" refers to Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36.
    Gain the whole world for the price of your soul
    Every man wanna act like he's exempt
    Need to get down on his knees and repent
    Can't slick talk on the day of judgment
    Your movement's similar to a serpent
    • "Doowop That Thing"
    Talking out your neck, sayin' you're a Christian
    A Muslim, sleeping with the gin
    Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in
    • "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.
    Don't forget about the deen, Sirat al-Mustaqeem
    • "Final Hour":
    Our survival since our arrival documented in The Bible
    Like Moses and Aaron
    Things gon' change, it's apparent
    And all the transparent gonna be seen through
    Let God redeem you, keep your deen true
    You can get the green too
    Watch out what you cling to, observe how a queen do
    And I remain calm reading the 73rd Psalm
    Cause with all that’s going on I got the world in my palm
    • 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 others
    Be careful of those who pretend to be brothers
    And 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 game
    That forces you to act this way?
    Forces you to scream my name
    Then pretend that you can't stay
    Tell me, who I have to be
    To get some reciprocity
    No one loves you more than me
    And 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 help
    Searching outside of themselves
    Now I know his strength is within me
    And deep in my heart, the answer it was in me
    And I made up my mind to define my own destiny
  • Capitalism Is Bad: "Forgive Them Father"
    Get yours in this capitalistic system
    So 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.
  • 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 chance
    But 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 heart
    Yo, now everybody tryin to chart
  • 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 scar
    Cause 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-violent
    But if a thing test me, run for my gun
    Can't take a threat to my new born son
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The album incorporates Hip-Hop, Gospel Music, Soul, Contemporary R&B and Reggae.
  • One-Word Title: "Superstar".
  • Parental Love Song: "To Zion" is about Hill's first child Zion.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Everything Is Everything"
    Everything Is Everything
    What is meant to be, will be
    After winter, must come spring
    Change, 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 equation
    I was on the humble you on every station
    Some wan' play young Lauryn like she dumb
    But remember not a game new under the sun
    Everything you did has already been done
  • Sampling:
    • "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.
  • Shout-Out:
    Just as Christ was a superstar, you stupid sir
    They hail you, then they nail you, no matter who you are
  • 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!:
    • "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:
    Let's stop pretend, the ones that pack pistols by they waist men
    Cristal by the case men, still in they mother's basement
    The pretty face men claiming that they did a bid men
    Need to take care of they three or four kids
    And they face a court case when the child support late
    Money taking and heart breaking, now you wonder why women hate men
    The sneaky, silent men
    The punk, domestic violence men
    Quick to shoot the semen, stop acting like boys and be men
    How you gonna win when you ain't right within?
    • ... but the same song also targets certain women:
    Baby girl, respect is just a minimum
    Niggas fucked up and you still defending 'em
    Now, Lauryn is only human
    Don't think I haven't been through the same predicament
    Let it sit inside your head like a million women in Philly, Penn
    It's silly when girls sell their souls because it's in
    Look at where you be in, hair weaves like Europeans
    Fake nails done by Koreans
    Guys you know you'd better watch out
    Some girls, some girls are only about
    That thing, that thing, that thing
    That thing, that thing, that thing
    • "Superstar" addresses the commercialization of hiphop:
    Yo hip-hop, started out in the heart
    Uh-huh, yo
    Now everybody tryin to chart
  • Title Track: "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill"
  • Urban Legend: It was widely rumored for a while that Wyclef Jean actually wrote all of the material on her solo album, when it was first released. In truth it was split between Hill and a group of producers called "New Ark", the later of whom had to sue Hill over not being credited for their work on the album.

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