Although Nicki Minaj is considered the Queen of Rap, Lauryn Hill is a female artist that preceded her and has remained in the history books of female rap. Few female hip-hop artists have been able to fill the void that Lauryn Hill left after she stood back from the limelight because her style was so unique. Furthermore, she was socially conscious and a fiercely pro-black figure.
Lauryn Hill is most known for being one-third of the hip-hop trio, The Fugees. A diminutive of the ‘The Refugess’, The Fugees have one of the highest-selling rap albums. Released in 1996, The Score received multiple Grammy awards and is still cited as one of hip-hop’s best-ever projects. Comprised of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel, The Fugees fused hip-hop with soul and drew upon genres worldwide.
Coming to prominence in the mid-to-late 1990s, The Fugees were very much a part of the pro-black, Five per cent renaissance alongside artists such as Erykah Badu and others. Hill, in particular, transferred this energy into her music and recorded much of her debut album in Jamaica. Wyclef Jean is of Haitian descent, and vast amounts of Afro-centric spirituality made its way into The Fugees’ music as a result.
Considering Hill’s solo discography only comprised one album, the New Jersey native produced some of hip-hop and neo-soul’s most beloved songs. However, her abrupt exit from the culture confused many and disgruntled an entire genre. For the entirety of the early 2000s, Hill held the record for the highest first-week album sales by a female rapper. However, her record was broken in 2010 when Nicki Minaj released her debut album, Pink Friday. Irrespective of this, hip-hop still holds Hill in high regard. In fact, Minaj even dropped to her knees upon meeting Hill in reverence of her.
It took over a decade for a figure to pick up and relight the torch of female rap following Hill’s exit. However, regardless of her personal choice to explore her spirituality when many wanted music, Hill is still a go-to artist if people want style, flow and that quintessential soul. Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, is lauded as a musical masterpiece. Unlike her predecessors, Hill could sing and rap, making her an incredibly versatile act. Furthermore, she knew how to convey a message with her tracks without relying solely on sex appeal.
The New Jersey native was genuinely one-of-a-kind. Aside from her most well-known track, ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’, her debut album featured several other fantastic songs, including the likes of ‘Zion’ and ‘Ex Factor’. Sampled by Drake for his song ‘Nice For What’, ‘Ex Factor’ is a profound song pertaining to love and is well worth a listen. You can hear the isolated vocals for the track in the video below.