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"The Bust of Lauryn Hill" is 20

Lauryn Hill. Scott Gries / ImageDirect

Back at Poughkeepsie Middle School, in September of my eighth grade, the administration tried something new. They played music during our midday, and we, the students, often chose what we heard. Needless to say, it was a short-lived experiment after the faculty recognized our love of profanistic rap. But before they pulled on a leash, our woodworking teacher, Mr. Baxter – the whitest man I've ever seen – brought in Lauryn Hill's malformation and played it in the cafeteria. I think he even gave a little talk about how important he thought this album was, but as soon as the first few bars of "Lost Ones" hit, we all went crazy.

This was the first time I heard the album because, as an unemployed twelve-year-old, with a mother who did not believe in an "allowance", I had no coins to buy the CD. But every time the music video for "Doo Wop (That Thing)" appeared on MTV, BET or VH1, I saw it with intense fervor. That's it I thought back then. We have been waiting for that. Lauryn Hill was the sound and face of the future.

Twenty years later, as tributes and monuments roll to commemorate their anniversary, The Malformation of Lauryn Hill remains a milestone, a touchstone and a monument to what might have been. It seemed like a classic as soon as it came out of the gates, broke records and inspired critics and audiences from all walks of life. I remember the pop-divas solosist, Madonna, who had her own critical and commercial triumph with Ray of Light and was asked what she was listening to, and she responded by singing the first lines "Doo Wop (That Thing)": "Girl, you know you're better off." Because Lauryn Hill came for all our crowns.

So undeniably was L-Boogie's Miseducation that even the Grammys – not really known for laughing women, let alone black women or hip-hop – Hill rewarded with five trophies album of the year. You can still count the number of black women who have won the album of the year on one hand: Natalie Cole for Unforgettable ; Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard soundtrack (another pop-culture juggernaut, but really a collaborative effort where Houston only appeared on six of its 13 tracks); and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill . There is hardly a "largest" list of music for which it is possible that The Miseducation does not appear. And over the course of two decades, the legacy of Hills Solo Solo Studio album has grown.

Nicki Minaj, one of the many artists who call Hill an influence, raps on her 2009 mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty : "But when it rains, it really pours / Def Jam said I'm not Lauryn Hill / Can not rap and sing on the same CD / The public will not get it, they have ADD "Minaj's old labelmate Drake has" Doo Wop (That Thing) "sampled for his 2014 track" Draft ", and yet famous, "ex-factor" for his ubiquitous, cutting-edge 2018 album "Nice for What." Cardi B has also rehearsed for the "Be Careful." But Hills reach extends well beyond hip-hop Library of Congress The Miseducation added further recordings to their National Recording Registry, classifying them as "culturally, historically or aesthetically important" and "informing or reflecting life in the United States"

It is Hills Reflection of life in America, which makes the universal applause so extraordinary, but a. So, what made it possible to begin with it? Since the treatment of Anita Hill and the fact that Stacey Abrams is ready to write history as the first female African-American governor in history – in 2018! – This country rarely cares what black women have to say. But the experience of black women in America is in many ways the story of America itself. The African American race was based on her love and in many cases on her injury. So, when Lauryn Hill raps to be "more powerful than two Cleopatra's" and bombard "graffiti on the grave of Nefertiti", and then MCs "into the Serengeti" with rhymes "heavy as the mind" by Betty Shabazz on "Everything Is Everything "Or when she denounces" Doo Wop (That Thing) "" Hair Like Europeans "at the first stroke ," she puts her blackness in front and in the middle, which makes her inevitable "- but because of her undeniable talent and the Power of pop music, it is also incredibly tasty.

The vision of Lauryn Hill is greater than any concept, identity or person, even in her preaching time. Hill covers love in all her incarnations and delivers with "To Zion" one of the most beautiful songs about motherhood. She sings about being young, optimistic and overwhelmed. She sings about a better future for herself and for all of us. Because she spoke so eloquently, so emotionally, so passionately about life itself, the deformity of Lauryn Hill was able to overcome the traditional boundaries of her genre and the limitations imposed upon her creator. It was and still is everything.

I bought my own copy of The Miseducation only a year after Mr. Baxter had played it in Eighth Class in September. I remember the exact day I got it: November 5, 1999. It was my fourteenth birthday, but it was overshadowed by my mother's funeral, which had died a few days earlier after a brief and unrestrained battle against pneumonia ,

After the funeral I sat alone in my aunt's bedroom and silently wished me a happy birthday when my cousins ​​surprised me with my best birthday present: a few CDs from the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall. One of them was The Missing of Lauryn Hill . It was a light in the whole darkness of the day, and I heard it endlessly, singing and patting it, memorizing it from start to finish, and internalizing it.

My mother and I shared the single room in our small apartment on Main Street, and now it was alone, though their presence still continued. In this room I sat on my small double bed, as I could not bear to disturb her larger, more comfortable queen-size bed that had become her death, and dreamed of The Miseducation . I was free and happy and no longer a product of my circumstances when I sang to "To Zion," an ode from a mother to a child that I adopted as my own. As the song grew blatantly, I sang in my ear, Ms. Hill fit note by note, "MY JOY, MY JOY, MY JOY! MYYYYYYYYYYY JOY!" And the tears welled up in my eyes.

It was pure joy. [19659015
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