Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
LAURYN HILL | The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Selected by Andy Healy
After two outings with Fugees, Lauryn Hill emerged as a shining star in her own right with her debut solo release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, an album that would rocket her to seemingly reluctant fame.
As a refreshing perspective in the world of hip-hop, Lauryn Hill took the braggadocio common to many of her male counterparts and flipped it, making a strong personal statement reflecting the many facets of the female perspective. Strong in one moment, vulnerable and reflective the next, Hill brings a sense of authentic power to her flow. Songs like “Lost Ones” and “Zion” deal with the turmoil and promise in her personal and professional career. In songs like “Superstar” she confronts the chart chasing nature of many hip-hop artists’ desire to see their name at the top of the charts rather than pushing to grow themselves as inspirational artists.
This is what separated Hill from many of her contemporaries. Her desire to be an artist first and foremost, rather than a star. Pioneering the tone of the emerging neo-soul, Hill connected with presenting music that made people think and feel. She wanted her voice to matter. And on tracks like the warm hug with a warning reflection on sexual politics and relationships, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” Hill becomes an uplifting voice for a sexfed generation.
It’s hard to fault the album at all. The way Hill draws on the music that inspires her, the way she draws from her life, the way she draws from her heart and mind.
The fact that the album still inspires modern artists (both Drake and Cardi B crib from her sublime “Ex-Factor”) 20 years after its release is a testament to the power of its contents. The album will forever remind me of sun drenched weekends listening to the album on repeat, and in these days of dark clouds a return to some familiar rays isn’t a bad thing.