Lyrical Ladies, Writing Women and the Legend of Lauryn Hill (Longreads)
Twenty years later The Miseducation is still relevant and winning honors; most recently it was voted #2 on NPR’s list of The 150 G...e By Women, sandwiched between #1 Joni Mitchell (Blue) and Lauryn’s spiritual godmother Nina Simone (I Put a Spell On You) at #3. As writer Paula Mejia stated in her essay on The Miseducation, “The album, rife with Hill’s biting rhymes and sharp turns of phrase, is a wonder from start to finish.” With lyrics that were as piercing and probing as an Alice Walker novel (“…blessed with a broad literary arsenal that… reflected her dexterity as a wordsmith,” Morgan writes) and as musically lush as a seventies Ann Peebles song produced by Willie Mitchell, the album was obviously brilliant, but for Lauryn Hill it would be both a gift and a curse.
The curse came later that year when the production team New-Ark, who helped Hill with producing and songwriting but never signed any contracts, sued for more money (they were originally paid $100,000) and for writing credits. Hill eventually settled with the musicians, and it’s hard for observers not to speculate that the suit embarrassed Lauryn or even scarred her emotionally — a narrative passively reinforced not least by her inability to create a follow-up studio album.
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