Being a big fan of Lauryn Hill or Ms.Hill as she likes to be addressed nowadays, there are two things that I’m not too fond of other fans doing. Better yet, so-called fans. The first thing is them spelling her name L-A-U-R-E-N. The second thing is them saying that she is not a rapper. That second thing is what really irritates me the most.
After releasing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998, the masterpiece earned her five grammy awards. One of the Grammys was for album of the year. Making her the first hip-hop artist to win in that category. Even though the album is mostly r&b and neo-soul, she indeed rapped on 5 of the 16 tracks. One of the other Grammys for the album was for the best new artist. She was new as a solo artist, but definitely not a new artist at all.
A couple of years before the release of her magnum opus and solo debut, Ms. Hill was killing it with the Fugees. Their sophomore album, The Score, is what really made Lauryn a star. She out rapped her two bandmates, Pras and Wyclef, effortlessly stealing the show. Lauryn’s verses alone from The Score could still make the album feel complete. Well, maybe it’ll be more like a mixtape in that case, but you get the picture. There have been times when I have fast-forwarded a track just to hear Lauryn’s verse sooner. There have been times when I’d listen to Wyclef’s verse just to build the excitement of Lauryn’s verse coming up. Verses from Lauryn on The Score sound like power and sophistication. From the top-of-the-line flow with precision that comes naturally to the clever wordplay that comes off as carefree and confident.
Fugees’s remake of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” on The Score may have overshadowed Lauryn’s incredible skills as an emcee. But only to those who are not really hip-hop fans or only bought the album for that one single. Then there were songs from The Score like “Ready or Not” and “Fu-Gee-La,” where Lauryn both spit a hot verse and sang the hook that may have led to fans and critics saying she’s not really a rapper.
On the opening song from The Score, “How Many Mics,” right after the album’s intro, Lauryn spits the first verse. She immediately sets the tone for the whole album—being braggadocious and vocal about her rap skills and passion for rhyming. Letting everyone know that she’s “sweet like licorice, dangerous like syphilis.”
An image of Kool Moe Dee’s 90s “rap report card” found its way onto Twitter recently. The Grammy award-winning emcee gave rappers letter grades based on their vocabulary, articulation, creativity, originality, versatility, voice, records, stage presence, sticking to themes, and innovation. Coming out on top and above others like The Notorious B.I.G and Tupac was the one and only Ms. Lauryn Hill, scoring an A+. We have The Score to thank for this A+ student.