It’s Been Ten Years Since ‘Miseducation’ So What Have We Learned?

laurynhill.jpgUnlike many bloggers and journalists out there, I have really tried to not take a stance of wanting to understand what happened to Lauryn Hill because it's quite simple really: she just couldn't handle the pressure. It's this same pressure that cause people to caution would-be child actors about whether they are truly prepared to give their personas over to an insatiable public. Concerning Lauryn's abrupt fall, the thing to keep in mind is that most truly talented artists in the world are very, very sensitive. It is truly overwhelming to not only feel that you have something worthy of sharing with the world and then perform it in front of people who may criticize your vision and your feelings. Add to all of this the whole notion of whether or not you should be making money from sharing your heart and soul with other people, and you have a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to Lauryn's case, she was a woman ill-prepared for the possession that we felt for her. The same lyrics that were tinged with tears and pain and laden with Biblical scripture housed the same songs that we rocked to over and over again in 1998 and beyond. It does us no service to analyze a woman we will never truly know. Furthermore, it will do us no service to analyze her songs as clues to the "craziness" that lies/lied within her. Whether she is mentally ill or not, and whatever we may feel about her, trumps the life that she is now leading with her five children and her man by her side. On this August day, let's remember what Lauryn meant to us in those times when we most needed someone to lead the way, and not dwell on how she does not fit our image of what we feel she should be for us now. So while I am just as tempted to dig all up into her business when she pulls a stunt like this, and I so want for the L-Boogie to come back as I knew her and sing my pain away, letting Lauryn Hill go is a hard lesson that we have all had to learn. Ten years may have passed since Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but all it seems that we collectively have learned is to be more in folks' business instead of minding our own, especially in our celebrity-obsessed culture. Maybe this is a lesson that Ms. Hill would like us all to learn. In the meantime, let's all remember the days when she represented strength, femininity, seemingly effortless talent and flawless beauty. 

[H/T: AB]


15 Responses

  1. An interesting, and sensitively handled write-up. Being one of those in the generation who saw Lauryn Hill rise, it is sad that she wasn't able to find a space for herself to create and be comfortable in.
    The work she has created is still quite excellent, and who knows what the future may hold for her? Only the best hopefully.-QH

  2. Ill-Mami, that was well-written. We do need to remember that she is person first, so of course, she's falliable. It's just so hard for her fans to see her seemingly wild downward spiral. But you're right, it's very hard for true artisits to share their art with others b/c some of them share themselves to the point of losing themselves. it's sad though, b/c I know i certainly didn't see ms. Hill as that vulnerable. But again, i only knew her through what she sang and acted. It is a shame though. I pray for her. I miss her. She was/is extremely talented and I hope one day sha can come back to the middle. However, if not, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is and will forever be CLASSIC!!!!!

  3. The MIseducation of Lauryn Hill is like the Keyser Söze of albums. She spun great stories about her life, kept you wanting more, and just like that............she was gone.

  4. I read the articles Roots (analysis and 5 questions from Rebecca Walker) earlier, and I totally agree with you. Its easy to judge others when they share there lives with you or are in the public eye. I still love this album and listen to it at least once a week at work.

  5. Miss her..

  6. That song, Lose Myself, that she did for the Surf's Up soundtrack wasn't too bad. I didn't much care for the production, but the lyrics were on point. Far from Miseducation, but better than a lot of other shit played on the radio everyday.

  7. Wonderful post Mami! I love Lauryn and always will. Sometimes it's too much too soon. She was so young and there was success and a child and all the pitfalls that come with this crazy game. I hope to see her come back to the music because she is a tremendous talent.

  8. Dave Chappelle said it best when he was on Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo TV. He said that there is obviously something going on in Hollywood if he would give up the chance to earn $50m, if Martin Lawrence is running down the street butt naked, and if Mariah Carey has an unexplained breakdown. There is too much pressure to give the people what they want!!!

  9. i forgot how breathe taking L-Boogie her prime she was better the 95% of ALL rappers, there has never been a female MC as dope or lyrical as she was, sometimes we forget, take a listen to Everything is Everything and listen to her word play......I would have loved for her and Biggies to get down on a track. My God bless her as she continues to battle her demons.

  10. I think that the music industry is sorely missing Ms. Hill. She was truly unique and an inspiration to artists around her. How many artists do you know who have released only one solo album (10yrs ago) and are still cited as one of the biggest influences by artists releasing albums today!
    Of course, as with everyone else I would love her to release a new album. The Miseducation Of .... is one of my all time favourites which I listen to regularly. However if she never sings another note (although it would surely be a huge wate of talent) at least she gave us a CLASSIC album that we will listen to for years to come. Which is more than can be said for most 'chart' artists now who could release 50 albums over their career and still not be fit to shine Ms Hills boots!!

  11. This morning my local radio station played "That Thing." I was surprised that they were playing it. And then I remembered that there was a time not too long ago where this song, a young woman telling her peers to value themselves, was ubiquitous on radio. It seems like a million years ago.
    My mother bought Miseducation for me for Christmas when I was 10 years old. Within days, me, my older sister and my mother were fighting about who could listen to it when. As a girl, Lauryn's message of embracing your whole self, your strengths and vulnerabilities were monumental. Her image of strong, loving, beautiful black woman left an indelible mark on my impressionable young mind. And I'm sure that mark was left on countless young females around the globe.
    The message, the image and, above all, the music endures... Don't be a hard rock when you really are a gem.

  12. I must chime in with my two sense. This was a great post. It really took into account the humanity of Ms Hill. WHile many praise her for Miseducation, which I loved, I praise her for all her work including the "unplugged album. Who can forget "Rebel" or Adam lives in Theory. smile. sheer brilliance! I think Ms Hill operates from a higher level she has transcended the lower nature inspired and pimped art of today. She dresses the way she does now because she is trying to enlighten not heighten our lower nature. Art is and its creation is for the development of culture. If all we have is people singing and mimicking sex in videos and songs then please tell em what would our culture look like. if you listen to her, she is making sense, but most cant get past the way she is dressed and as I said that has a purpose too. Finally remember Sinead O'Connor? remember what happened to her when she spoke against the POPE. Well Ms Hill did the same, she stood up in their faces and made her comments. Now she can't seem to put out an album, because it is said she has recorded material the label wont release. Let us all be aware and continue to send our genius Ms Hill our good thoughts.

  13. Folks, i think it's a bit presumptive to assume that Lauryn has mental problems or that she "folded" from the pressure. I hope you all are considering that some people can achieve all of that fame and success and then find that they really don't WANT it. Talent and gifts aside, sometimes you might just want to sing your songs and share your stories without all of the other insanity that comes with it. It appears to be very difficult for most of us to think that some people opt-out of the celeb life because it truly doesn't suit them. No one calls Sade crazy when she takes 8-plus years between releases. Is it that ridiculous to think that Lauryn may actually be perfectly satisfied with who she is right now?

  14. @ Stephanie Renee:
    I think you hit the nail right on the head by saying "Lauryn may actually be perfectly satisfied with who she is right now". That's why I assert that Lauryn in effect wants us all to stay out of her business. Because she is happy. But there is also an argument to be made that her abrupt, dramatic, and public departure from the spotlight (unlike Sade) may have been caused by her feeling consumed by an insatiable public she could never satisfy.
    So in effect we are all agreeing on the same thing.


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