The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

 
(i)

 

Singer-songwriter fuses R&B, reggae, hip-hop on smash debut.
Grammy

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In several songs, including the very pointed "Doo Wop (That Thing)," Hill sends a message to women that they deserve respect -- love shouldn't mean becoming a doormat. "To Zion" suggests that any new mother is like the biblical Mary, in that every newborn child deserves to be adored. "To Zion" is also specific about Hill's choice to keep her child even though others told her to "be smart" and "think of your career."

Positive role models

At the age of 23, Lauryn Hill won five Grammy Awards for this 1998 solo album -- her first -- on which she sings about love, trust, and inner strength. She sets a beautiful example for young women with her artistic maturity and success. On a personal level, Hill could be a more questionable role model, as she has six children but has never married. In addition, she pled guilty to federal charges of tax evasion in 2012.

Violence

In "Lost Ones," Lauryn Hill sings "L. Boogie's non violent/ But if a thing test me, run for mi gun." Other songs, like "Ex Factor," talk about hurting and scars in relation to painful emotions. "Doo Wop (That Thing)" has a negative reference to "punk domestic violence men." "Superstar" compares artists to Christ crucified, saying "they'll hail you and then they'll nail you."

Sex

Few songs on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill include any explicit sexual content; most focus more on love and relationships. However, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" is about women who maybe regret becoming intimate with men they can't trust. Lyrics include lines like "guys are only about that thing," "the one you let hit it and never called you again," and "gave him a little trim." Hill's cover of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes off of You" includes the lyric, "you'd be like heaven to touch."

Language

"Doo Wop (That Thing)" mentions a girl "showing off" her "ass." It also includes the word "pissed."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

"Doo Wop (That Thing)" includes the line "Saying you're a Christian, a Muslim, sleeping with the Gin." "Superstar" has a cocaine reference: "... if you slit the bag open/ And put your pinky in, then taste it."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Lauryn Hill's debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, rose to No. 1 on Billboard's album chart and earned five Grammy Awards. This is mainly an R&B album that borrows creatively from reggae and hip-hop sounds, with Hill's soulful voice front and center. Lyrics deal with themes of trust and betrayal, love, and parenthood. Hill makes very few explicit references to sex, but in "Doo Wop (That Thing)," she lays blame at the feet of both sexes for relationships in which women subjugate themselves to unreliable males; here she mentions "the one you let hit it and never called you again" and says "gave him a little trim." The album also includes one reference to alcohol (gin) and one to cocaine, one mention of a gun, and one curse word: "ass." Also note that the song "To Zion," a love song about Hill's first child, refers to her choice to keep her baby despite others' advice to "think of your career."

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What's the story?

THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL is the smash debut solo album by former Fugees member Lauryn Hill. It was recorded largely in Tuff Gong Studios, Jamaica, and incorporates elements of R&B, reggae, soul, and hip-hop. Hill wrote most of the lyrics for the album after she left the Fugees, and while she was pregnant with her first child, and many of the songs deal with themes of trust and betrayal, fame, love, and parenthood. The album was a massive hit, rising to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and winning five Grammys. With 10 nominations and five wins, Hill was the first female artist to receive that many Grammy nominations and awards at one ceremony.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Lauryn Hill's debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, fused R&B with reggae, soul, and hip-hop in a fresh way that broke through to mainstream audiences in a huge way. Unique for its time, the album still sounds fresh today. Hill's soulful, intimate vocal style set a standard for later R&B stars like Alicia Keys, and her lyrics, though personally revealing, carry a lot of universal appeal and depth. This is a cool, urban record that hits the listener in a very emotional place.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about relationships in the song "Doo Wop (That Thing)." What is Lauryn Hill saying to women, and to men, about how they should treat each another?

  • In the song "Superstar," Lauryn Hill seems to equate famous artists with Jesus. Do you agree that famous people are persecuted?

  • In "Forgive Them Father," what are the sins that the singer feels should be forgiven?

Music details

Artist:Lauryn Hill
Release date:August 25, 1998
Type:Album
Label:Sony Music
Genre:R&B
Topics:Friendship
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No
Award:Grammy

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