Lauryn Hill - "Doo-Wop (That Thing)"
We forget how prolific she was. Her genius was staggering when she erupted into her solo career after being with the Fugees for so long. She may not still be on everyone’s radar, but she’s still creating incredible music, just not music that’s palatable to everyone’s tastes.
Raised mostly in South Orange, New Jersey, Hill began singing with her music-oriented family during her childhood. In high school, Hill was approached by Pras Michel for a band he started, which his friend, Wyclef Jean, soon joined. They renamed themselves the Fugees and released the albums Blunted on Reality (1994), and the Grammy Award–winning The Score (1996), which sold six million copies in the U.S. Hill rose to prominence with her African-American and Caribbean music influences, her rapping and singing, and her rendition of the hit "Killing Me Softly". Her tumultuous romantic relationship with Jean led to the split of the band in 1997, after which she began to focus on solo projects.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), remains Hill's only solo studio album. It received critical acclaim showcasing a representation of life and relationships and locating a contemporary voice within the neo soul genre. The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and has sold approximately eight million copies there. This included the singles "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (also a number one), "Ex-Factor" (became her biggest solo hit in UK), and "Everything Is Everything". At the 41st Grammy Awards, the record earned her five awards, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. During this time, she won several other awards and became a common sight on the cover of magazines.
Soon afterward, Hill dropped out of the public eye, dissatisfied with the music industry and suffering with the pressures of fame. Her last full-length recording, the new-material live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (2002), sharply divided critics and sold poorly compared to her first album and work with the Fugees. Hill's subsequent activity, which includes the release of a few songs and occasional festival appearances, has been sporadic. Her behavior has sometimes caused audience dissatisfaction; a reunion with her former group did not last long. Her music and public statements have become critical of pop culture and societal institutions. Hill has six children, five of them with Rohan Marley. In 2012 she pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served a three-month prison sentence the following year.
While she’s had her ups and her downs, you can not say that she isn’t legendary. The kind of artist that others will ever aspire to be.
So today with a nod to the past and an eye to the future, I choose Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” as my, make something that lasts, create the new classic, learn from the lessons of your past, song for a, begin again, hope a little harder, build a little stronger castle in the air, Thursday.