Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jason Karsh   
Tuesday, 25 August 1998

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Columbia Records
| Performance 5 | Sound 8 |

By now, many months and five Grammy Awards after this album first hit the market, we feel obliged to review it, if only to let you know what’s going on here. First of all, I’ll admit it, I was one of the many who lent my voice in support of a Lauryn Hill solo album after The Fugees first album was released. I subsequently apologized after Wyclef Jean put out The Carnival. Now, I must apologize again.

Beginning with her appearance on Nas’ "If I Ruled The World" and ending long before her multiple appearances on the cover of Time Magazine, Lauryn Hill went from under-appreciated to overexposed in record time. This is assuredly entirely understandable, Hill is intelligent, attractive, and talented--unfortunately, none of this seems to help her debut album.

First of all, ‘Miseducation’ isn’t what most Rap fans called for when they screamed for Hill to go solo. Yet, this wouldn’t be a bad thing if this album weren’t so uneven. At times, as in parts of "Ex-Factor," Hill’s voice is almost angelic, yet at other times--including a good part of the highly successful "Doo Wop (That Thing)"--it waffles to the point of tedium. Perhaps moving Hill away from a Rap album and more toward a vocal album draped over a few back-beats was the perfect marketing move, but the truth is there are much better female R&B vocalists out there. What is most compelling about Lauryn Hill is her lyrical rap style, yet this is underused to a fault on this album in favor of an attempt to manufacture hit singles. If you happen to like the singles, you’ll like the album. But as far as something new and inventive, you won’t find it here.

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