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“It doesn’t necessarily mean miseducation like I didn’t do well in school – as I did do good in school – but it has a lot to do with finding out about your own aspirations and your own dreams, and not those dreams and those aspirations that some might have for you. It’s about movement and growth and inspiration.” With this album, her dream became reality: Hill triumphed as Best New Artist at the 1999 Grammy Awards, and won Best Album Of The Year, for a total of 5 statuettes (becoming the first woman to set this record).
The “miseducation” of Lauryn Hill can be defined complete: the sound, lyrics and genres are mixed together in a smooth and balanced way. Her rough voice and her rap alternate in a very pleasant fashion, going from social themes about reggae inspiration, or rather, Rastafarian (the interpretation of Marley’s Concrete Jungle in Forgive Them Father) to biblical references, followed by gospel sonorities, and passing through quotes of The Doors (Light My Fire) and duets with Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo.
The caliber of Lauryn Hill is so high on an artistic level just as on the personal one. A troubled affection marked her life — the one with Wyclef Jean of Fugees —, which will turn into a pure and unconditional love with the birth of their first child Zion, that Hill spoke about on the notes of Santana (Zion): “Everybody told me to be smart / Look at your career they said / Lauryn, baby use your head / But instead I chose to use my heart / Now the joy of my world is in Zion / … / I’ve never been in love like this before.”
The red wire of the album is the lesson of the american poet Ras J. Baraka, whose teaching are recorded and included in the album: “Teacher: Alright people, I’m gonna write something on the board. Let’s spell it. First letter / Class: L, O, V, E”. An album about love made with love.
That album only — a classic right from the start — was enough to make Hill become the well celebrated queen of her kind. Later on, she decided to withdraw from public life, without ever forgetting her city, origins, and her mother who “always thought she’d be a star” (Every Ghetto, Every City).
Anna Laura Tiberini – Translated by Beatrice Birolo