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Lauryn Hill has had an extremely successful career from the start. She had a few acting gigs and completed her freshman year at Columbia University before dropping out to dedicate more time and efforts to building a career in music. Prior to pursuing her career as a solo artist, Lauryn was a member of, The Fugees, a rap trio. She was the only female member and was a huge contribution to the unique sound of the group. Not only could she rap, but her she had an enchanting voice that gave extra finesse to their songs.

The Fugees were conscious rappers and their music reflected their views of society, representing and commenting on Black culture and life experiences. Hill’s image was original, usually known for her dreadlocks and loose fitting clothing, and her raw talent made her so memorable. The Fugees first album, Blunted on Reality (1994), did little compared to their sophomore album, The Score (1996). The Score made history, selling over 17 million copies, and made The Fugees the biggest-selling rap group ever. After their second album together, The Fugees decided to split and release solo albums. The other two members, Wyclef Jean and Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, also went on to release solo albums after the group split after their second CD, but neither was as successful as Lauryn Hill.

Fugees

Here is a video from The Fugees’ first album entitled “NappyHeads.”

 

 

 

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Her debut album was long-awaited and when finally released in 1998, pleased all of her fans. Selling over 400, 000 copies in its first week, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill broke the record of the most sold CD’s in a week for a female MC. It also reached number 1 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for 11 Grammy awards. Hill walked away with 5, winning the most Grammy awards ever won by a female artist. The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill is a classic in rap and although recognized for its R&B and vocal qualities, has widened and stretched Lauryn’s musical categorical placement. The multitalented Hill is a rapper, songwriter, producer, singer, and an overall musical genius.

awards

Although Hill’s career was a little less than perfect as she has used her music to comment on the imperfections of society on many levels. She, like many others, have commented on rap’s sexist culture saying,

Men have a hard time taking direction from women, but when you pay somebody, you pay them to get it right. I think that women will be called ‘bitches’ and ‘hard to work with’ if they ask for and get what they want. So I don’t pay attention to that at all. Music is so important to me and how I come across in music is so important. I’m a perfectionist. If I have to do it a hundred times, I’ll do it a hundred times!

She has tried to pay very little to the comments of others, developing her own image and defining who she is as an artist.

The song, Doo Wop (That Thing) reached #1 on numerous charts and is one of my favorite songs and videos from The MisEcduation of Lauryn Hill.

So how many awards did Lauryn Hill receive and what was she nominated for?

Category Genre Song/Album Year Result
Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group R&B Killing Me Softly 1996 Won
Best Rap Album Rap The Score 1996 Won
Album of the Year Top The Score 1996 Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Pop Can’t Take My Eyes Off You 1998 Nominated
Best Female Rap Solo Performance Rap Lost Ones 1998 Nominated
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance R&B Doo Wop (That Thing) 1998 Won
Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group R&B Nothing Even Matters feat. D’Angelo 1998 Nominated
Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter) R&B A Rose Is Still A Rose – by Aretha Franklin 1998 Nominated
Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter) R&B Doo Wop (That Thing) 1998 Won
Best R&B Album R&B The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 1998 Won
Best Female Rap Solo Performance Rap Lost Ones 1998 Nominated
Best New Artist Top N/A 1998 Won
Album of the Year Top The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 1998 Won
Album of the Year Top Supernatural 2000 Won
Best Music Video (Short Form) General Everything Is Everything 2000 Nominated
Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter) R&B All That I Can Say – Mary J. Blige 2000 Nominated
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Pop Turn Your Lights Down Low, with Bob Marley from The Best Man soundtrack 2001 Nominated
Best Female Rap Solo Performance Rap Mystery Of Iniquity 2003 Nominated
Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group R&B So High, with John Legend 2005 Nominated

Her recognition was world-wide and her achievements were astounding. Just when everything seemed perfect………

more Lauryn

Lauryn Hill disappeared from the music scene for a while, learning more about herself and reevaluating her priorities. Her current image is not what it once was. Before removing herself from the public eye, she complained about not being her true self, having to smile in people’s faces when she didn’t and following the standards of the media and industry. As an artist, one cannot stray to far from a certain portrayal because of a set image. When the image of an artist changes, fans may not like the “new” person that they see, although “different” aspects of that artist may have really been there the entire time. What is really known about an artist is a snippet of their life, an act, sometimes even a front, but people hold on to these depictions, casually mistaking them as authentic and real.

“Men like it when you sing to them. But step out and try and control things and there are doubts. This is a very sexist industry. They’ll never throw the genius title to a sister. They’ll just call her ‘diva’ and think it’s a compliment. It’s like our flair and vanity are put before our musical and intellectual contributions.” Comments like this made by Lauryn show the unbalanced ideals of rap and how these sexist thoughts affect the artist. It is more difficult for women to be appreciated as talented unless, like Lauryn, they are geniuses. Being called a diva is a compliment but when women are only considered and recognized for their beauty or style rather than intellect and talent because of their gender, a problem arises. A HUGE problem. A problem that may have contributed to Lauryn’s need to escape.

“For two or three years I was away from all social interaction. It was a very introspective time because I had to confront my fears and master every demonic thought about inferiority, about insecurity or the fear of being Black, young and gifted in this western culture. It took a considerable amount of courage, faith and risk to gain the confidence to be myself. I had to deal with folks who weren’t happy about that. I was a young woman with an evolved mind who was not afraid of her beauty or her sexuality. For some people that’s uncomfortable. They didn’t understand how female and strong work together. Or young and wise. Or Black and divine.”

more pictures

In 2001, Hill was featured on MTY Unplugged, performing new songs that would be recorded on MTY Unplugged 2.0 and released as a CD. Many of her fans joined together, hoping to see much of what they remembered of Lauryn Hill. They were disappointed when she came on stage with a guitar in hand, her commercial self gone and replaced with a different persona. Her new music, with “less flair” and a new agenda, was not as well received as the songs she previously released.

Lauryn Hill’s journey makes me question why she was originally adored and how her hiatus has affected her musical career. Now that she is “different” and “new,” she has lost some appeal to her fans and the media. She will always be considered a legend because of her groundbreaking work, but society had an enormous influence on how she viewed herself and wished to be viewed by others. She changed the game of rap for women and made room for originality and creativity. Without her contributions, it would be interesting to see the state of rap today.

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