Spirit of the Boogie

So… I understand that Lauryn Hill closed out 2010 playing her ol’ crazy-ass reindeer games, eh? I can’t be too surprised though, as she’s seemed to revel in this reputation of constantly being late and putting on lackluster performances, yet still having people pay to see her. If there was ever an artist from the world of hip-hop whose career has become a tragedy over the last ten years, Lauryn is slowly but surely coming for that #1 spot, second only to DMX. It could’ve all been so simple, but she’d rather make it hard.

I first heard Lauryn in ’94 when she was a member of The Fugees, on the “Nappy Heads” remix. I wasn’t necessarily checking for the group as a whole, but it was quickly noted (not only by myself but general consensus) that the girl of the group was nice as all hell. The two dudes? Not so much. If nothing else, it appeared that there was something more to see about that Fugees group, but it wasn’t anything to do with Wyclef or Pras. Despite not exactly setting the world on fire first time around, they did build up enough of a buzz to get a second chance. And so, around late-’95, a more fine-tuned Fugees returned with a single that changed everything for them.

When “Fu-Gee-La” dropped, it took off almost instantly. It seemed as though they listened to the critics and opted to make Lauryn the centerpiece of the group. Wyclef and (to a lesser extent) Pras had even improved and carried their weight. It was a great set-up single for their second album, The Score. Shortly before the album hit the stores, there was another song that radio had started playing on their own- The Fugees’ ’96 rendition of Roberta Flack‘s “Killing Me Softly”. As overplayed as it eventually became, it completely sold me on the group, and specifically Lauryn. Once The Score came out, it was one of the best and highest-selling albums that year.

The Fugees had a formula which mixed their older musical influences with their style, and it took them from being just another group to arguably the most popular. The songs I liked most from The Score also happened to be the ones Lauryn anchored. Not that Wyclef’s musical direction didn’t also play a part in their success, but she was obviously the star of tracks like “Fu-Gee-La” and “Ready Or Not”. By that summer, not only was “L-Boogie” a star, but she had also performed the hook for the single that made Nas a national star, “If I Ruled The World”.

There were lots of female MCs during that era, but for me, Lauryn was one of those that I couldn’t even box in to that category. Often, female MCs only get matched against other females- whereas Lauryn’s lyrical talents were comparable to anyone out there. She could rhyme her ass off and sing, which made her a unique talent in a time before every other rapper was experimenting with their vocal skills (or lack thereof). Obviously, when it was announced that all three members of The Fugees were dropping solo projects, it was a no-brainer that Lauryn’s shit was gonna be the one to watch for. It was very possible that she was about to be the next big thing as a solo artist- even bigger than she already was with the group.

And she did exactly that. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill wasn’t the big MCing manifesto that I expected, but it was an album that solidified her as one of the true great artists of the time. Lauryn could do it all- from rhyming to singing to producing (though that has been contested by several unpaid contributors) to performing. She was a  total package, whose music was beyond her years (she was roughly 23). My mother, who I don’t recall caring about any other music that came out in ’98, played Miseducation in the hole for almost a whole year straight. I had a neighbor who blasted “Ex-Factor” and “Zion” at least five times apiece every day. Being the bigger fan of Lauryn the MC, I was on “Lost Ones” more than anything, but was also partial to her remake of Frankie Valli‘s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”.

She took all the Grammys, got all the praise, sold a shitstorm of records, and was seen at one point as one whose career was on track to legendary status. And then… silence. After marrying Rohan Marley, Lauryn disappeared for almost two years, only to show back up in ’02 with that sad-ass MTV Unplugged. After that (and its bad reviews), she fell even further out of the scope until late-’04, when she got back with Wyclef and Pras for a planned Fugees reunion. One or two half-assed tracks later, they split up again, and she was gone again.

It ain’t hard to tell what the hell happened- that long-told story of success and the music industry not being all it’s cracked up to be. It ain’t for everybody, and apparently, it wasn’t for Lauryn. Still, she seems to be affected long after the height of her success. She’s been more known for being impossible to work with, lookin’ crazy as all fuck, bad stage shows, and overall erratic behavior than any of the things that made her a big deal in the first place. Shame it is, and I’m no doctor, but whatever it was that got Lauryn (whether psychological issues, drug issues, or general disillusionment) really got her.

At this point, all that can be said for Lauryn Hill’s post-2000 career is that it’s gonna make a great episode of Behind the Music someday. While a lot of people (including myself) held out hope for YEARS that someday she’d come back and deliver another classic, I think it’s finally become clear that it ain’t finna happen. During the late-’90s, Lauryn experienced a meteoric rise, but the crash back down to Earth was one that she’s never recovered from.

The Fugees “Nappy Heads (Remix)” (1994)

The Fugees “Killing Me Softly” (1996)

The Fugees “Fu-Gee-La” (1996)

The Fugees “Ready Or Not” (1996)

Nas feat. Lauryn Hill “If I Ruled The World” (1996)

Common feat. Lauryn Hill “Retrospect For Life” (1997)

“The Sweetest Thing” (1997)

“The Sweetest Thing (Mahogany Remix)” (1997)

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (1998)

“Lost Ones” (1998)

“Ex-Factor” (1998)

“Turn Your Lights Down Low” (feat. Bob Marley) (1999)


16 Responses to Spirit of the Boogie

  1. Mark Dub says:

    Yo…it’s so tragic & sad. Kweli came out w/a song saying how he wished we could just get old Lauryn back. The sad part is that she was miserable making ‘The Miseducation’. She’s been quoted saying how she felt like she wasn’t making the music that was true to her, but was, instead, making what she thought we all wanted to hear. Sadly, she was dead on, and I don’t see her even wanting that degree of success again.

  2. I remember the day Miseducation came out, I was in college and everyone was riding around blasting it, which was crazy bc these thug or macho dudes weren’t bumping “Lost One” they were playing the slow soulful stuff. Everyone was so excited about that album!

  3. Shed a tear my nigga…………. I WANT 4 CHICKEN WINGS FRIED HARD AND SHIT

  4. Jade Fox says:

    Great post. Yeah, I still hold on for the great “comeback”. The game is definitely missing a presence like her. I don’t think there’s a female mc over 21 that can say she didn’t have crazy influence on them. So much learned from Miseducation…

  5. guantanamo b says:

    Really really sad.
    Lauryn made a few classics, ‘The Miseducation’ being one, and everybody loved her.

    Hope you’re wrong saying she won’t make a comeback I’m afraid your right…


  6. sickwitit says:

    lauryn is on the same shit that lil kim is on…i don’t know if it’s drugs, delusions, or the “has been” effect, but it’s sad. The fact that nicki minaj is the new-new is sad too. People tried to say that nicki had to make her album more pop to be more mainstream, but great artists don’t have to make “pop music” to sell like pop music.

  7. MsYoung81 says:

    Im gonna say that I have no faith what so ever in Lauren coming back like she was. It is what it is. For whatever reason, she isnt the same person and I honestly believe that she is doing the shows, not because she wants to, but becuz she has too. She does have a lot of babies. Lauren’s heart left her music long, long ago. Im still trying to figure out why in the world she even did the Unplugged. Crying every damn song. smh

  8. bitchdoctrine says:

    that damn jamaican put roots on her. no, they are not married. in fact, that loser rohan is married to some other chick, and was married to this chick when he first met lauryn.

    i have “miseducation” on replay ten years later. i can say it was one of those seminal albums that helped define my childhood/teenage years.

    i was a fan of hers since “sister act 2”, i just think the pressure of the fame game got to her, and she took a step back to live life and raise her bag of kids.

    tickets to her show in toronto sold out in 24 hours, and now tickets are selling on craigslist for $150.00. as much as i love l.boogie, the only way i would buy that ticket, is if all 10 of her kids sang backup and she showed up 2 hours early. LOL

    • Mark Dub says:

      I THOUGHT that I had read somewhere that Rohan was married & STILL IS to someone other than Ms. Hill. It’s tragic that she’s so strung out on dude that she’d accept being second-string status and still have a gang of kids for him. SMDH.

      • gmLady says:

        Rastafarians are polygamists-case closed–and they are open about this. Many Rastas do not get legally married, ie, via marriage certificate because it would invalidate their belief that they should have multiple wives. Any woman/women who is also Rastafarian or in a relationship with one will accept the polygamist lifestyle. In addition, Rastas believe in having many many children. I believe Lauryn is/was disillusioned by this lifestyle. It is very difficult to accept unless you were raised in this culture. I am not condemning it, i just say if you were not raised in a polygamous or polyandrous family it would be very difficult to have a healthy relationship in one if you were raised in a pro monogamous society.

  9. […] Spirit of the Boogie by Danj! […]

  10. shone jones says:

    The sad part about this is that I predicted that she wasn’t gonna be around in two years and this was back in 1998.

  11. […] Spirit of Lauryn “L-Boogie” Hill……Danj Loves the 90s […]

  12. […] While listening I began thinking about the artists’ careers and that distracted me from lovely excellence of the track.  Lauryn Hill (damn, girl!) … D’Angelo (damn, yo!).  All I can do is shake my head. “It’s funny how money changes situation…”    See my brotha’s blog re: Lauryn – http://dlt90s.com/2011/01/04/spirit-of-the-boogie/ […]

  13. Anonymous says:

    what happened to lauryn? are all you people dumb? she woke up man! which is what allot of people havent done wake up people everything is not what it seems……………

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