This Saturday marks 20 years since the release of Lauryn Hill’s astonishing debut studio album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Here are five li’l things you may not have known about the seminal record.
1. The title references both Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro – a 1933 work which posited that young African-Americans were being culturally conditioned at school, making them feel inferior and believe themselves worthy only of subservient, dependent positions in society – and The Education of Sonny Carson, the 1974 best-selling autobiography of revered war veteran and civil rights activist Sonny Carson.
2. Hill was pregnant with her first child – the father of whom is Rohan Marley, son of Bob – as she wrote the album. She has said: “When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create.”
3. Columbia Records suggested Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA to produce the record, which Hill declined. Hill’s Fugees bandmate Wyclef Jean – who initially didn’t want Hill to record a solo album at all – also eventually offered his services as producer, which Hill also declined. “Hey, it’s my album,” she said. “Who can tell my story better than me?”
4. The music video for the song’s first and biggest single, Doo Wop (That Thing), paid homage to the roots of the neo-soul movement. Filmed in Washington Heights in Manhattan, its split screen depicts two block parties; the left sees Hill and party attendees in the bright ‘60s get-up popular at the height of doo wop/rhythm and blues, and the right presents the scene in 1998 (at the time, present-day).
5. The album debuted at #1 in America and smashed the record for first-week sales by a female artist. It earned 10 Grammy nominations (making Hill the first woman to received so many in one year) and won five awards at the 1999 ceremony.