Genius songwriter, rapper, producer and performer, Lauryn Hill is anything but miseducated. She is instinctively challenging, unafraid to speak words that make others uncomfortable, willing to engage in unpopular dialogue even where her own growth is required. Watching the intro video on Ms. Lauryn Hill’s website – a recent recording of her performance of the classic Final Hour fashionably dressed in classic vintage attire, you can feel her warmth, engaging her adoring audience with a solid and graceful flow.
‘I have known since [I was] very young to look for the purpose and lesson in everything, including the trials,’ Hill wrote.’ – Lauryn Hill, speaking about her time in jail for Daily Mail interview, July 2013
Born May 26, 1975 in East Orange, New Jersey, the youngest of two children in a middle class Baptist family, today Hill is a powerful feminist voice of the hip hop generation. A child prodigy who worked hard at whatever drew her interest, her musical roots began at home surrounded by the influence of creative parents, teacher Valerie Hill who played piano and computer expert Mal Hill who sang in clubs and at weddings.
Hill loved learning, and by high school she was seen as a brilliant academic. But she also evolved into a critically acclaimed actress, musician, and singer. It was in high school that she met the duo – Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean – with whom she would form the Fugees, and expanded her skills to become one of hip hop’s most notable emcees. Her signature rap and singing styles envelope the listener in a warm direct vocal embrace – contradictions and all.
Whether as a member of The Fugees from 1994 onwards or with the release of celebrated self-produced 1997 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, her lyrics and her personal beliefs provokes the listener to reflect on their role in the world. The same year, she launched The Refugee Project, a non-profit organisation to benefit youth. In an industry where artists, in particular women artists, are usually relegated to the simple role of entertaining the masses, Hill remains committed to educating through her lyrics and her actions.
Living in the public eye for the past 20 years, first as a member of iconic hip hop group The Fugees and then as a Grammy award winning solo artist, the outspoken Hill is no stranger to controversy. Although admired for her women empowering lyrics, she’s been publicly shamed for tax evasion, which is linked to her anti-establishment history. More recently Hill landed in political hot water for homophobic imagery when her 2013 release ‘Neurotic Society’ resulted in many who loved her music accusing her of being anti-gay.
A review of the history of powerful women artists like Lauryn Hill, a dedicated mother of six, often highlights such artists’ careers defined by a tragic love life or overshadowed by romantic relationships. Not so with Hill, despite her relationships with Wyclef Jean and Rohan Marley. Hill’s talent and ability to thrive even in the most demanding situations speaks volumes about her creative vision and her humanity.