…Even for those of you haven’t seen “Brown Sugar,” I think this is a question any and every avid fan of Hip Hop must ask themselves.
My defining moment, as Henri Cartier-Bresson would say, was not being able to play a game of hide-n-seek without singing, “Ready or not. Here I come. You can’t hide… I’m gonna findddd youuuu.” Granted, I was only like 4 years old so I didn’t know much… But I knew enough. I was young enough to absorb everything I heard, but old enough to let music evoke the utmost emotion within…
…& Just like that, my prepubescent crush on Hip Hop began to evolve.
Two years later, I figured it was time for us to go steady
…Starting with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Its funny to think that at such a young age, and I’m talking like 5 or 6, an album was able to resonate so deeply with me. But what did I know about the profound effect of a unifying force like music? Well, I didn’t. I hadn’t much a clue as to what experiences Lauryn Hill would so honestly sing about, especially considering how many childhood memories just fade… But this album in particular, was like a gift in the sense that it was like a dream that stayed with me even after I woke up… It was timeless and equally incapable of waning with the circumstances. And as I journeyed through life, I’d be able to carry Lauryn Hill lyrics word for word in my back pocket, each of them meaning more to me with each passing day.
Now, 15 years later… We can, and should, honor this piece of artwork, one of only nine that XXL Magazine couldn’t help but rate as a classic. Say what you want about Lauryn Hill, hell I know I have. A part of my childhood died when I saw her perform at Rock the Bells 2010. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing (& quite literally, I say this in the worst way). In addition to being “fashionably late,” she had performed like 12 hits in five minutes; barely let Nas finish his verse on “If I Ruled The World.” I have to force myself to hold back the tears from emerging from my ducts just thinking about it and what has become of her as of late literally. (Its bad, I can’t even watch clips of “Sister Act 2” without this happening). Yet and still, even with all that being said… The female artists we know and love today would not be here if Lauryn Hill did not pave the way, regardless of how unfortunately short-lived her reign was. Thus,
t h e r e i s n o d e n y i n g that she was a woman… THE woman of the People.
…Who manipulated her music in such a way — whether it was through the sounds and influence of the islands, or updating the honesty and intimacy of smooth R&B — that even years later, a young girl growing into woman, like myself, was strapped with more confidence in self and the street-smart bluntness of Hip Hop.
(I would have quoted my favorite lyrics, but that would’ve meant quoting the entire song… Seriously. Who you know can make an entirely quotable song today?)