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The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: A Guide To Being Born

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

I’m a dumb guy. This isn’t false modesty or anything, I know I’m smart in some ways, but I am a childless & single 24 year old man, I basically am a child. I’m not good at communicating my feelings in real life, I hate being sappy, I'm not good at being vulnerable, I’m not good at discussing serious situations, I turn everything into a joke, I care about being cool more than I care about almost anything else. I go to the club, I care about cool clothes, I care about fast cars, I care about pretty girls, I care about money, I care about how my hair looks, what my aesthetic is on Instagram, and all types of shit that on some level I know is just vain and stupid, but I care about it. On some level we all wanna be cool. We all wanna be the biggest baller, have more hoes than a pimp at the players ball, be the biggest criminal or gangster since pablo Escobar, & smoke more weed than Snoop Dogg.

We’re all in the lifestyle business now because of social media, Cool is our coping mechanism, everyone shares their highlights, and we curate our feeds to perfection to look like the coolest person that ever lived, we all wanna Push P. That’s why every rapper in my generation picks up a pen and the instinct is self aggrandizement, and criminal behaviour, because they wanna be cool and being real is scary.

Every kid I grew up with of every race had a million glocks in their bars on their iPhone notes app even though they never saw a gun because that’s what's cool. The Glock is a representation of that need we all have to look cool. Kanye West said it best “always said if I rapped I’d say something significant, but now I’m rapping bout money hoes and rims again.” We all wanna be cool, but that’s not always where the significant stuff lies.

That’s why the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is my favourite album of all time. Miseducation is a guide to being born & alive. Lauryn Hill was being honest, not with a veil of coolness, just raw pure emotion and perspective. Lauryn Hill was a woman in her early 20s when she made the album that would change music forever. I don’t remember the first time I heard this album, I just know I haven’t stopped playing it since I heard it. Every song and every skit on this album is my favourite song and skit ever. I’ve heard people refer to this album as a “breakup album” which is insane to me because this album is about literally everything, it’s about being human.

This album is about God, family, men and women, childhood, city life, poverty, wealth, sex, falling in love, having your heartbroken, racism, slavery, religion, motherhood, sacrifice, I can’t even cover the amount of topics but it’s just such an overarching perspective of real life that she had that honestly makes me a better human being for having been exposed to it, and I go back to it almost everyday. Lauryn believed her wisdom was coming from a divine source and it’s hard to disagree if you’ve been impacted by this album.

This album is better than everyone else’s albums because it covers more ground, there’s a universality to the album that makes it transcendent. With references from the Bible and timeless themes like love, money, relationships, school, work, it’s an album about real life, not an album trying to sell a lifestyle, or be an advertisement.

The entertainment industry is still an industry, back when you could sell CDs and records you could make money from music, nowadays to make money you have to sell stuff, artists make their art with bundles & merchandising now, if you’re a Travis Scott fan, you’re a fan of the lifestyle, you’re a fan of the merch, you’re buying into an aesthetic. Artists aren’t really incentivized to tell you about their story, their trials and tribulations, their perspective on the world, unless theres a product or a lifestyle that can be attached to that expression. But hip hop started out in the park, or as Lauryn said, in the heart. Legitimately, why do we make art? Lauryn figures it’s a mixture of wanting to change the world, save the world, heal your soul, express yourself and find the truth.

There’s usually no money in this kind of album, but this album went on to break every record and win every grammy. There’s always been something so corny about conscious music. Conscious artists can tend to operate from this perspective where they’re more enlightened than everyone else and it just becomes a bunch of 9/11 conspiracy theories and talking down on “fake rappers” or whatever it is, and it’s just ridiculous after a certain point if you’re older than 14.

Once you realize that these underground rappers don’t have the truth behind reptilians in the government, you can get disillusioned with a lot of people in the genre, but that’s not the type of consciousness Lauryn had, this was everyday consciousness in the real meaning of the term, this was a person that was awake in their everyday life, consciously observing everything that had been going on throughout her young life, and then describing it articulately. I know there’s been various lawsuits throughout the years about this album with people saying they wrote things, but Lauryn Hill is a writer in the real sense of the term. Lauryn was deeply watching everything and everyone, friends, foes, love, betrayal, all of these themes and motifs that she was able to transform into this generational album.

Most men and women, let alone rappers, could never write & perform the song Ex Factor, everyone wants to look too young, and hip, and cool, and sexy, attractive and whatever other word you can find. The song Ex Factor is about real love, loving someone so much it hurts you, needing someone, feeling hurt by someone but still loving them despite it, the level of sincerity, earnestness and openness you need to write those lyrics takes a level of confidence our generation is too concerned with showcasing a lifestyle to pull off. Lauryn grew out her Dreadlocks, and told you about her broken heart and how they were asking her to abort her baby.

Lauryn also had the greatest production in music history, a merging of Hip Hop, reggae, soul and jazz, and the greatest lyricism in hip hop history from one of the greatest rappers at her mainstream peak.

Lauryn Hill is just a genius, she was truly ahead of her time with that album. She never had to release another album because this album covered it all, this album only becomes more relevant to my life every day. Lauryn was clearly well read, but she was also literally a genius in the real way, in the way where it’s been 25 years since the album came out and it’s still the best album that’s come out in the last 25 years. And I know the term best is subjective when it comes to art, you might think some other album is the best but I haven’t heard another album like this since it and anyone else that’s considered “the best” is inspired by it, and I think there’s a reason for that. I think every artist starts off with the same intentions as Lauryn Hill, but then we all end up as the Superstar she’s referring to in the song.

There’s a reason why Hip Hop hasn’t had a number one on billboard this year and it’s because artists are in the lifestyle business, and people want real life again. People want something that soothes them, that relates to them, that makes them feel like they’re not the only person that’s felt this way before. Art is supposed to make us feel less crazy, not gaslight us into thinking everything’s fine cause your favourite rappers are flying across the world on private jets. "What you want might make you cry, and what you need might pass you by if you don’t catch it, and what you need ironically will turn out what you want to be, if you just let it." That’s something this girl said at 24, do you understand how crazy that is? I’m 24, I talk everyday, but when I got the chance to make art, I fell victim to the same bullshit, because being cool is still too important to me, but this album always reminds me that there’s something deeper and realer, and it’s not always about macho and bravado, filled scenic descriptions of smoke, clothes, money and hoes.

The music industry did Lauryn dirty but this album will always play because its truly timeless and Lauryn Hill is a generational genius that needs to be protected.

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