‘Miseducation,’ missteps and one Ms. Lauryn Hill

No, it’s not “Purple Rain”-era Prince. It’s Ms. Lauryn Hill, last weekend at the Rock the Bells show in California.

The timeline

Although it’s been almost a decade since Lauryn Hill has released a new album, the Grammy-winning singer is headlining Rock the Bells for the second year in a row. While she may not have the most prolific recording career, many of hip-hop’s lea-ders cite Ms. Hill as an influ- ence, and what she lacks in recorded output, she makes up for in interesting history.

1987: Along with school pals Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, Hill forms the Fugees.

1994: While Hill is a freshman at Columbia University, the Fugees release their debut, “Blunted On Reality.”

1996: The Fugees follow-up, “The Score” becomes one of the biggest hip-hop albums of all time. Having gained respect as an MC, Hill’s singing voice leads to their biggest hit, “Killing Me Softly” and two Grammys.
1997: Hill has her first of five children with Rohan Marley, son of Bob Marley.

1998: Her soulful and conscious solo debut, “The Mis-education Of Lauryn Hill” sits at Billboard’s No. 1 for four weeks. Later that year she is dogged by rumors that she told MTV she’d “rather starve than have white people buy her albums.” Hill calls into the Howard Stern Show to deny the rumors. MTV also calls the allegations false.

1999: Hill becomes the first woman nominated in 10 Grammy categories in one year and the first to win five in one night, including Album Of The Year.

2002: After stepping away from the spotlight, Hill drops “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0,” debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. While most ar-tists had used the unplugged format to rework earlier hits, Hill doesn’t revisit any previously released songs. The sparse arrangements feel more like a collection of de-mos than a complete work. Her song “Mystery of Iniquity” would later be the basis of one of Kanye West’s early hits, “All Falls Down.”

2004-2006: The Fugees reunite for “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party,”  and perform on the BET Awards, but after a short tour, old tensions reappear. Hill is said to insist on being called “Ms. Hill.” In an interview she refers to the group as “a conspiracy to control, to manipulate and to encourage dependence”

2007-2010: Rumors of Hill’s erratic behavior continue. Performances receive mixed reviews and she is frequently late for shows. In June 2010, she tells NPR that she has plans to start recording.

After having a sixth child, Hill receives positive reviews headlining Rock the Bells again with greats like Nas, Rae- kwon and Ghostface performing classic albums in their entirety. She performs the 18 million-selling “Miseducation.”


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