Picks and Pans Review: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill (Ruffhouse/Columbia)
As one-third of the Grammy-winning hip-hop act the Fugees, Lauryn Hill became a star. On this, her powerful solo debut, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter-producer becomes an artist. Thoughtful and passionate, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is an exhilarating mix of warmly expressive singing, hip-hop and reggae-flavored rhythms and Hill's often nononsense lyrics ("Don't be a hard rock when you're really a gem/Baby-girl, respect is just a minimum"). Sometimes celebratory (as in the slightly overwrought ode to her son, "To Zion") and sometimes cautionary (the heartbreaking look at love gone bad, "Ex-Factor"), Hill can seem wise one moment and playfully girlish the next. With help from guitarist Carlos Santana and fellow vocalists Mary J. Blige and D'Angelo (who duets on the sexy "Nothing Even Matters"), Hill sings about nontraditional hip-hop subjects such as God, family, the cost of success and the need to love and be loved. In the process she raises the bar for intelligent, introspective pop.
Bottom Line: Hip hop sung with heart
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