There is a plethora of new rappers who have appealed to the Afro-centric crowd during the last 20 years, but no one has come close to touching Lauryn Hill. And today, May 26, Lauryn Hill celebrates her 40th birthday.
Hill has been successful in music for almost her entire life. She achieved major success as a member of the Fugees with their 1996 album The Score. The collection went six times platinum and is considered a hip-hop classic album among rap purists.
The trio included Wyclef Jean and Pras, both impressive artists in their own right. But many critics have long-since considered Hill to be the most talented of the group. As a rising rap star, she rhymed better than any of them on songs like ”Fu-Gee-La” and “Family Business”, while at the same time singing with a big, soulful, dynamic voice on “Killing Me Softly.”
Follow the Fugees up with a great solo female production, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a resounding look at inner city life, romance and motherhood, and you have a true star. Hill’s lone solo studio album went eight times platinum. It also won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1999.
Unfortunately, since then Hill has been through a series of bad encounters with the law and also, reportedly, with bad boyfriends. She did a short stint in jail for tax fraud but then emerged as brave as ever. She released a chilling single track, “Black Rage (Sketch),” which marked a distinct political turn in her work.
Here is a complex woman at the top of her field, nearing an age at which she will probably become even more of a musical powerhouse, if all goes well. These days the legendary hip hop artist seems to be in good health, and she is still stunningly beautiful. She has been touring and remains politically vocal.
Lauryn Hill was born on May 26, 1975 in East Orange, New Jersey. Her parents were English teacher Valerie Hill and computer and management consultant Mal Hill. Ms. Hill has one older brother named Malaney. Her family is Baptist. She had a middle-class upbringing, knowing both many white, Jewish families and many black ones. Actor Zach Braff grew up in the same New Jersey neighborhood, and she attended his Bar Mitzvah.
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