Music / Deep Dive
Lauryn Hill: Finding inspiration two decades on
Ms Lauryn Hill's influence runs far and wide, and to celebrate her current run of Australian shows we wanted to examine just how much of an impact she has had on the music scene.
In 2018, Ms Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill celebrated it’s 20-year anniversary. Now she is in Australia celebrating its legacy, so we asked around to really find out just what impact Ms Lauryn Hill and her music have had on the music scene.
Ms Lauryn Hill is not just a musical legend – she is also a cultural and political icon, with a legacy that touches souls and inspires creativity. From her years with The Fugees to her solo work, her music will continue reaching ears and lives long into the future.
Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore – Director, producer, filmmaker, Her Sound Her Story
“I remember hearing Lauryn Hill sing for the first time in Sister Act 2, I must have watched that movie countless times. I was 12 when The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released – still forming my own ideas of myself and the world around me. That would have been one of the very first and few CDs I ever saved up my own money to buy. I’m sure, like so many, I wanted to sound like her, the tone of her voice sounded so real and beautiful to me. She was this gorgeous African American women, so much style and so effortlessly cool, that felt so foreign to me. I was this daggy little girl, so naturally, I admired her in every way. The album became a heavy part of the soundtrack to my teenage years, rapping and singing along to every lyric. Lauryn is a living legend, the album is one of the most iconic stamps of ’90s music I think that touched so many of us. ”
Ben Wright Smith – Singer-Songwriter
“When I was super young, the first rap album I was given was Fugees The Score. Actually, my brother was given it and I burnt the CD. I think it is still my favourite album of its genre, maybe in part because of its sentimentality, but there was something else. It was different to the other rap albums I’d been listening to. It felt more like an invitation to a world I didn’t know anything about. I think a huge part of that was Lauryn Hill’s voice mixed with these beats; hip hop was brand new to me at the time but the production still had this soulful, Caribbean influence that I loved. As she went on to do her solo work with Miseducation… I remember being struck again by how different it sounded to anything I had heard. The honesty in her lyrics painted pictures of the real America, one that I didn’t see on TV. This felt grounded, gritty, and real to me from the start.”
Georgia Hopkins – Blogger, it’s beautiful here
“I was 19 in 1998 – living a uni student life, and highly influenced by the music and artists around me. I was deep in an Outkast, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg moment, and a little shocked by the murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G in the years before. I had always loved the Fugees, but I didn’t really know a thing about neo-soul – what it was, or even what it sounded like. Listening to Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill for the first time was revolutionary for me. I was obsessed. I might not have known about neo-soul, but I knew I liked what I heard – such a perfect mix of all the styles I loved; R&B, hip hop, soul, and reggae. It was perfect. I was madly in love with a boy for the very first time, and as a result, was digging Hill’s view on life and love even more. Doo Wop (That Thing) quickly became my anthem, as did Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. Hill became a beacon for women – for love, self-worth, and self-awareness – she became my hero.”
Luke Carlino – Singer-Songwriter
“I remember hearing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill when I was a teenager. I obviously knew and was a fan of the Fugees, and a big fan of hip hop, but this was the start of my journey into a love for neo-soul and a great introduction to artists like D’Angelo. Around this time it was impossible to turn on a radio or music video program and not hear Doo Wop (That Thing), or see it’s block party-style video, it was like a summer anthem for me and listening to it today still takes me back to my teenage years. At a time where I was also discovering genres like grunge and metal, it was Lauryn Hill who maintained my passion for hip hop and ensured that my musical tastes remained diverse. Years later, I was reminded of how skilled Hill is as an MC on the live version of Mystery of Inequity for the MTV Unplugged session – do yourself a favour and check it out if you aren’t familiar with it, it’s mind-blowing.”
Inspiration far and wide
It’s clear that Lauryn Hill’s music has influenced a whole number of creatives right around the world. We thought we’d pick out some of our favourite new musicians who have been influenced by Lauryn Hill.
Melbourne rapper and singer-songwriter Kaiit has listed The Miseducation as one of her most influential albums because of the way it highlights pivotal moments in Hill’s life while still remaining relatable to everyone. Take a listen to Kaiit’s music and it’s clear that Hill is an idol, and right from her debut single Natural Woman people have been comparing the two.
Noname authentically portrays the realities and experiences of life as an African-American woman to create beautiful, poignant poetry that combines everything from soul to jazz, and gospel to hip hop. We can definitely hear a lot of Lauryn Hill influence in her discography.
While her music may be vastly different, Maggie Rogers describes The Miseducation as, “…like smelling a smell that you know from your childhood. Lauryn is just woven into the fibre of my musical DNA.” and when we look at the way Rogers creates music, it’s easy to see where the influence lies. The way the pair express the vision of their music, the way they invite you into their story; make their world your world, the way they tell their stories with such honesty and openness that they become your stories too.
When talking to Billboard, she said, “When The Miseducation came out, I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now. I didn’t know how gifted one had to be to accomplish what she did: singing and rapping as a dark-skinned woman with natural hair. I just internalized the music and thought it was good. But now I respect everything about it, culturally and intellectually.” And when you listen to Lizzo’s catalogue; the way she crafts her music and more importantly the way she crafts and shares her anger and her stories, you can hear Ms Lauryn Hill too.
Sampa The Great
Rich, vivid storytelling, experimental beats, and left-field rhymes have become par for the course with Sampa The Great, and with artists like Lauryn Hill listed as one of her greatest influences, we can definitely hear the connection. Speaking to Cool Accidents, she said, “She reminds me that I have a purpose. She’s so influential it’s quite hard to describe in detail…I see attributes of myself in her.”
Lauryn Hill’s music is also being brought to audiences in new ways thanks to the art of sampling. Some of our favourites include Drake‘s Nice For What and Cardi B‘s Be Careful, both featuring samples from Lauryn Hill’s Ex-Factor. In 1998, Nick Grant warped the pitch and tempo of Doo Wop (That Thing) for his own track Forever and Always, and DJ Khaled teamed up with Nas to rework the Fugees 1995 track Fu-Gee-La, combining Nas’ voice with Hill’s iconic vocal and building in a trap beat.
Ms Lauryn Hill will perform at Riverstage Brisbane on Sunday 10 February, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne on Wednesday 13 February, and Festival Hall, Melbourne on Thursday 14 February. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.au.