Ms. Lauryn Hill is the Most Timeless Artist Ever

5 min readApr 8, 2024
Ms. Lauryn Hill at Dolby Live in Las Vegas, NV (Author Photo)

The music industry has produced many icons whose music spans generations, crosses culture lines and transcends genres. We’ve been blessed with several artists whose art outlives them — where we continue to purchase and listen to and appreciate their work long after the artist is gone. Ms. Lauryn Hill is and will be one of them.

Ms. Lauryn Hill is an icon.

Her iconic status is especially interesting because it’s largely the result of one album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She released, and contrary to popular opinion, I like her Unplugged album. But it’s Miseducation that was so good, such a classic, that she continues touring with it more than 25 years after the album’s 1998 release.

Think about that. Fans have been pouring into concert venues — sometimes waiting hours — to hear renditions of 15 songs we’ve been hearing for more than two decades. There is no new music. No fresh singles. No anticipation of an upcoming LP. Yet, Hill remains one of the hottest tickets in every town she visits.

I must stray for just a bit. Because I can’t resist considering what great fortune it is to be loved this much, for this long, with so few conditions. Who might we have become if granted such grace?

But yes, L-Boogie.

Talk about standing the test of time. Who else has reached the heights of her success off of one album? ONE ALBUM. I cannot stress this enough because it is so wildly improbable. Who else goes on tour and performs nothing but the same songs, from the same album, over and over and over again and we never tire of listening? I’m seriously trying to think of someone who has only released a single studio album, and yet is considered an indisputable GOAT.

This was Hill’s first album at that. It took many of our icons a few releases to really find their groove and for us to say, ok, this one is special. Janet Jackson’s first album was forgettable. She basically says as much in her recent documentary. Whitney Houston’s first album is not considered her best. I love it, but I love everything Whitney ever created. I am not an impartial judge of her work. I won’t formally request but hope that you will, pardon my bias.

There are exceptions, of course. Always. But I could continue listing now-iconic artists who didn’t have their best showing out of the gate. So, imagine that first album being both the catalyst and the foundation for an unparalleled solo career.

Yes, I know Hill released two studio albums as a member of The Fugees. The Score is a multi-platinum masterpiece and absolutely positioned Hill to thrive on her own. If you’d been following her, from a lead role in “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” to her masterful rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” you knew her solo success was near inevitable. Still. No one could have predicted it would be on such a massive scale.

Hill took one swing and hit a home run.

More than 25 years later, the ball is still hanging in the air. That to me is a testament to the flawless depth of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This is one of those albums where you do not feel compelled to skip a single song. You may enjoy some more than others, but at no point will a track play that you flat-out do not ever want to hear. The vibes are immeasurable.

If you’re into numbers and accolades as evidence, however, here you go: Enough copies of Miseducation were sold for it to go diamond (10,000,000 units) in the United States and at least platinum in many other countries. Hill received 10 Grammy nominations related to the album, making her the first woman to be nominated that many times in one year. She won five, including awards for Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Album. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, making it the first hip hop album to ever receive the award.

This is about the complete greatness of that record-breaking, trendsetting debut.

Although, every moment is captivating. Every interlude intriguing. Every track. I mean every single one, immaculate. And heartfelt. Poetic. And of substance.

Even the bonus tracks are fire. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has two. If you can remember back to the time of CDs, they were not even originally included in the track list. You just had to keep listening after the title song listed as the album’s end, until you got the surprise opening notes of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” Then, if you kept listening after that, “Tell Him” started to play.

Hill rapped and sang her way into our souls. And has there ever been anyone who does both so well? Whose rhyming skills and vocal range can each stand up against the greats? We don’t have to think long about this one. Some singers can rap a little. Some rappers can sing a little — they can carry a tune. No one except this one can hold their own both rapping on a track with Nas and crooning alongside D’Angelo.

Ms. Lauryn Hill is a singular talent on an unprecedented run.

I saw her perform live for the third time a couple days ago, in the Spring of 2024. The show was sold out. My friend had to get tickets from a resale site. That’s more common today as scalpers buy up passes to popular events with the intention of making money off of folks who can’t get to their computers or paydays quickly enough. But an eye test made it apparent that this was a true sellout. All 5,200 seats in the theater appeared filled.

The age of attendees spanned from teenagers to seniors. All of us swaying, scream-singing along with Hill as she belted out “Ex-Factor.” Each of us bouncing, throwing our hands into the air as she rhymed her way through “Lost Ones.” And doing it all as she performed “Doo Wop (That Thing).”

Twenty-five. Excuse me. Closer to 26 years later now, we are rushing to hear the same songs from the same album. And the music is — Ms. Lauryn Hill remains — just as magical. No other artist has rendered the passage of time as irrelevant in such an implausible manner.




Pushcart Prize nominated essayist and memoirist. Author. Music connoisseur. Multi-passionate creative. I’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams….