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If you like Lauryn Hill's story, you might also like:
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Sheryl Crow,
Vince Gill,
Whoopi Goldberg,
Quincy Jones,
B.B. King,
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and Oprah Winfrey

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Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill
Profile of Lauryn Hill Biography of Lauryn Hill Interview with Lauryn Hill Lauryn Hill Photo Gallery

Lauryn Hill Interview

Singer, Songwriter & Record Producer

June 18, 2000
Scottsdale, Arizona

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  Lauryn Hill

Early in your career with the Fugees, critics began to talk about the possibility of your having a solo career. How did you decide to leave the group and make a go of it on your own?

Lauryn Hill: I think everything happens in time. There's a time for everything. There's a time to be in a group, and there's a time to be solo. At least there was for me. If I had had it my way, I would have been in the group forever. I enjoyed the group atmosphere. I thought it was so good to have two guys on stage backing you up. But the interesting thing about entertainment is that when you're struggling, everybody goes in with the same goals. Somewhere along the success area, you start to look at everyone around you and go, "Wait a minute. Where are you going? Where are you heading? Because I'm going this way. What happened? I thought we were all on the..." and sometimes success can do that. Sometimes it really illuminates creative differences, spiritual differences, emotional differences. Just like a young person would think that, "My fifth grade friends are going to be my friends forever, throughout high school, throughout..." and it's not that they cease being your friends, but sometimes you just mature to a place and some people get there faster, some people don't. Hopefully, ultimately everyone catches up. But it's really interesting, because I didn't actually make a decision to be solo. It really just happened. I promise you that. It's hard to explain, but I had intended to be in the group forever, until I found myself in circumstances where I felt the inner desire to express myself, freely and openly without any constraint, without anybody saying, "Hey, you can't say that. That's not fly. You can't say that. People won't..." You know what I mean? So you know the only way I could have done that was in doing a solo release.

It's one thing to go solo, but producing your first album yourself must be quite a challenge.

Lauryn Hill: The good part about it is I think that God surrounded me with the right team, with the team that I needed to help me exercise all of my ideas. You need that. You need that army, you need that force. You know what I mean? No man is an island. So I refused to take all of the praise for that, because they were talented musicians, they were talented engineers, they were talented production assistants who really, really were there. And if I had an idea I was able to express it, and made them stay and work diligently until it was expressed. I appreciate the fact that if there's a will there's a way.

You called that album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It's a provocative title. Tell us about the word "miseducation." People can put a lot onto it.

Lauryn Hill Interview Photo
Lauryn Hill: I think people start to put whatever they want. But "miseducation," every day it means something more to me, actually. People automatically thought, "Maybe her teachers didn't teach anything." But that wasn't it. The meaning behind it was really sort of a catch in me, learning that when I thought I was my most wise, was really not wise at all, and when my humility and innermost places that most people wouldn't expect a lesson to come from -- that's where I learned so much. I term the phrase "miseducation," not because it was a miseducation per se, but just because it was sort of contrary to what the world says is education. This education that came from life and experience, and not necessarily all academic but related to living.

That album was very personal, wasn't it?

Lauryn Hill: It was personal. That's probably the only reason I put my name in the title.

I had gone through a lot, a huge emotional and spiritual battle prior to the creation of that album. And the funny thing is that while I was going in the battle, I couldn't see my hand to spite my face. I mean, I really couldn't see anything, because I was so emotionally entangled in everything that I've gone through. But it was like, once I was delivered from that situation, and once I got the perspective -- was able to look back at heartache, and look back at pain and disappointment -- for some reason it all was so clear. It was just like the picture started to form itself. The songs started to create themselves. I was able to look back and be a narrator of my own situation. But the interesting thing was that it couldn't happen while I was in the middle of the confusion.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

What was so confusing?

Lauryn Hill: It was about a young woman in the music industry, and the pitfalls, the snares, the traps, and they don't stop. They keep coming, they don't stop, they keep coming. They don't stop. I think that because I grew up in such a loving family structure, I thought that everybody did. Therefore I thought that everybody reaped the benefit of that love. Pretty naïve way to think. And so I learned very important lessons about people and their voids, and how when you have voids -- like a black hole just sucks and consumes everything into it. And I met a lot of those people. Here I was this ship, I just want to love, but a lot of black holes, a lot of people with a lot of deep, deep painful voids who found it easy to take advantage, and to manipulate and to deceive someone. With me who just -- all I want to do is love.

And you were young.

Lauryn Hill: Very young, very young.

I had to learn from those things, painfully, but even now I thank God for correction. I even thank Him for hardship, because it shows me exactly where I am, where I was, and where I need to be. So it was important, it was a very important record. Interestingly enough, that record was all about what I feel, and it's going to be interesting to see what the next record becomes, because that will probably be about what I think, as opposed to what I feel, everything that I feel. It will be what I feel still, but it's also going to be something conscious. A lot of that was unconscious creation, unconscious creativity, because I was so overwhelmingly emotional. It was just like I couldn't... I just had to write about this.

Are you saying that the "miseducation" was a feeling?

Lauryn Hill: I don't know if I really want to continue with that thought and I'll tell you why.

Every time that God navigates my ship, there's nothing cerebral going on. There's very little thought. It's almost as if I have the directions. Every time I try to do it myself, I'm conjuring up my own concoction and trying. It's a little more difficult to do it that way, because it takes a lot of thought and it takes a lot of energy. But it's like, when I'm led, it kind of really is just, it's all there and it's clear. "These are your orders. Just go forth and carry them out." So I was going to say that this album gets to be what I think, but I don't know. Who knows? Who knows what that will be? Because I think that what I've consciously decided to do was be patient and wait for those instructions again, as opposed to the instructions from the record company. Unfortunately, I can't fulfill their needs. I can't, because it's devoid of all feeling. You know what I mean? I have to make sure that what I create, I never want to condescend. There are a lot of people who condescend to the audience. They just think, "They'll like anything. Just throw a beat on it and put your voice on it." But if it doesn't move me, then I don't think it's worthy enough to put out there and move someone else. You know what I mean? It has to be something that is -- personally -- is something that I need personally. That's my barometer for whether or not it's good for the people. Not just anything. "Just make a beat. It's hot, throw it out there." I can't use that barometer. That doesn't work with me.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

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