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Education is Everything

Lauryn Hill talks about the inspiration for her No. 1 album

If you’ve been dying to dissect the doe-eyed, do-good diva Lauryn
Hill, look no further than her long-awaited, much-acclaimed solo
debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is currently
perched high atop the Billboard album charts. Uncluttered
by sampling, braggadocio and remakes, each track on
Miseducation is a window into Hill’s influences, passions
and pains.

Front and center, it’s clear that the twenty-three-year-old,
socially conscious single mother’s world is woven closely around
children. The heartfelt tribute to her young son, “To Zion,” spells
out how Hill’s life has been shaped by his birth.

“I had always been one of those people who would make decisions to
make people happy, and the birth of my son was probably the first
decision that I had made for my own happiness,” Hill says. “He’s
made me softer, harder, mixed-up, jumbled up, stinky, sweet, and
spit-up-on. He’s made me realize my true capacity to love.”

Hill’s affinity for children and their innocence is a theme that
pops up throughout Miseducation, so much so that it
inspired the album’s title and recurring grade school class skits
between tracks. “I’ve always been surrounded by a family of
teachers,” says Hill, “and I thought it would be interesting to put
a bunch of kids in a classroom with a teacher and just talk about
love.”

Hill even gathered a group of kids from her South Orange, N.J.
community and played teacher-for-a-day herself. “We asked kids what
do you think about the world, what does it mean to you,” explains
Hill. “I think they communicate a lot of what I felt at one point
and continue to feel. There were a lot of funny moments, and I was
also really surprised to hear them say some really dark, ironic
comments about love.”

And Hill’s brand of maternal affection and devotion to kids
extends beyond her music. She’s founded Camp Hill, in upstate New
York, and Refugee Camp, in New Jersey, which are both outreach and
education programs for underprivileged inner-city kids.

If Hill was indeed “miseducated,” the lessons that she’s plucked
from life itself have given her all the tools of the trade.

In This Article: Lauryn Hill

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