Lauryn Hill re-releases her ‘Miseducation’ album

David Goodson | 7/26/2018, 11:40 a.m.

What it was or what it is? That is the question that’s begged when landmark anniversaries arise, especially for music. Twenty years ago, today we sat with bated breath for the album to drop. The mainstream was prepped as the lead single “Doo Wop (That Thing)” began to make its rounds (debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts).

The streets were primed because of the supreme boom-bap/lyrical combination of “Lost One.” Couple those with the single a few months earlier, “The Sweetest Thing” from the soundtrack of the movie “Love Jones.” Yeah, musically we were ready.

Aligning with the music, however, was the emotional attachment. We saw a young lady from the tristate grow before our very eyes while checking off many boxes associated with future stardom. “Showtime at the Apollo” showed she had grit. A stint on a soap opera (“As the World Turns”) and a scene-stealing performance in a film (“Sister Act 2”) showed versatility. Then as part of the group Fugees, she showed us that she can rap—really rap, as the first album from the group, “Blunted on Reality,” attested. The second album, “The Score,” while a massive hit, showed that there was yet another dimension for her to reach.

Selling six times platinum put her in the crosshairs. While professionally success was at hand, personally she was under the microscope. Creative spats and the infamous spot blowing pregnancy reveal to the public was an unfortunate reality check. Her fans choose to hold her down and ride it out, hoping she wouldn’t succumb to the pressure. That pressure created and unleashed a proverbial diamond Aug. 28, 1998, with the release of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” In a nutshell, that’s what it was! At least for an observer. From the eyes of the creator, it was that and then some.

Hill said, “This album chronicled an intimate piece of my young existence. It was the summation of most, if not all, of my most hopeful and positive emotions experienced to that date. I loved and believed deeply in my community’s ability to both love and heal itself, provided it received the right amount of support and encouragement. Our world today, both complex and changing, is in need of the balance between moral fortitude and cathartic expression. I hope the love and energy that permeated this work can continue to inspire change with love and optimism at the helm.”

Now embarked on the “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” 20th anniversary world tour, Hill shows now what it is. That being a timeless classic.

Under the stars at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, we had a stroll down memory lane. Backing some of her tunes we were treated to a collage of images. The astute noted among others Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Public Enemy, Dionne Warwick, KRS One, Stevie Wonder, LL Cool J, Marvin and Donny blended with the spirits of regular people throughout the African Diaspora. Those instances were a glimpse into her initial inspirations and foundations. That’s why the music maintained the same feel. The artist has matured and so has the songs. The musical arrangements were a little lusher, thus matching perfectly with the content and the soul-dipped vocals exemplified perfectly with the performance of the album’s title track, where she croons:

“I look at my environment, and wonder where the fire went

What happened to everything we used to be,

I hear so many cry for help, searching outside of themselves.

Now I know his strength is within me

And deep in my heart, the answer it was in me, and I made up my mind to define my own destiny.”

So maybe a follow-up album wasn’t destined. Twenty years later, we still talk about and rock with that one piece. Much appreciated, Ms. Hill.

Tristate, we have one more shot to catch the show in the area. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the PNC Bank Arts Center (116 Garden State Parkway) in Holmdel, N.J. Ticketmaster has a few left.

Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.