It’s been 23 years since musical powerhouse Lauryn Hill released her debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which not only shattered records and swept up GRAMMY Awards, but is widely considered one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. For years, questions have been looming from her fans about why Hill never released a sophomore follow up to this classic. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, the former Fugees member explains why she never followed through with the momentum gained from her first solo project.
“The wild thing is no one from my label has ever called me and asked how can we help you make another album, EVER…EVER. Did I say ever? Ever!” Hill said during an episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums podcast. “With The Miseducation, there was no precedent. I was, for the most part, free to explore, experiment, and express. After The Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations, and saboteurs EVERYWHERE. People had included me in their own narratives of their successes as it pertained to my album, and if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy.”
Hill continues, saying that though she’s continuing touring and making music sporadically, the suppression she’s felt with regards to her later work weighs on her “I wrote an album about systemic racism and how it represses and stunts growth and harms (all of my albums have probably addressed systemic racism to some degree), before this was something this generation openly talked about,” she said. “I was called crazy. Now…over a decade later, we hear this as part of the mainstream chorus. Ok, so chalk some of it up to leadership and how that works — I was clearly ahead, but you also have to acknowledge the blatant denial that went down with that.”
Despite the lack of support, Hill looks back at the impact of The Miseducation with pride. “I also think the album stood apart from the types and cliches that were supposed to be acceptable at that time,” she says., “I challenged the norm and introduced a new standard. I believe The Miseducation did that and I believe I still do this — defy convention when the convention is questionable.”
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill was released in August 1998 by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records. The album opened at No. 1 and sold an astonishing 422,624 units in its first week, which had never before been done by a solo female artist. The following year, Hill took home 10 GRAMMY nominations and five wins including the coveted Album of the Year and Best R&B Album. Her chart-topping single, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” won Best Female R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. Hill was also named Best New Artist that same year.