Lauryn Hill’s seminal classic, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, earned the artist a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1999, but an official studio follow-up never materialized. In an interview on Rolling Stoneundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined’s 500 Greatest Albumsundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined podcast, the rapper and singer explained how label politics and commercial considerations left her disillusioned with the music industry.
“The wild thing is no one from my label has ever called me and asked how can we help you make another album, ever…ever. Did I say ever? Ever!” Hill revealed. “With The Miseducation, there was no precedent. I was, for the most part, free to explore, experiment, and express. After The Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations, and saboteurs everywhere. People had included me in their own narratives of their successes as it pertained to my album, and if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy.”
She went on to offer her own view on the album’s legacy and its politics.
“I’ve always been pretty critical of myself artistically, so of course there are things I hear that could have been done differently but the love in the album, the passion, it’s intention is to me, undeniable,” she said. “I think my intention was simply to make something that made my foremothers and forefathers in music and social and political struggle know that someone received what they’d sacrificed to give us, and to let my peers know that we could walk in that truth, proudly and confidently. At that time, I felt like it was a duty or responsibility to do so… I challenged the norm and introduced a new standard. I believe The Miseducation did that and I believe I still do this—defy convention when the convention is questionable.”
Although Hill never released an official second solo album, she did deliver follow-up material with her MTV Unplugged performance in 2001. There, Hill abandoned the soul and hip-hop sound of The Miseducation in favor of acoustic folk music. She later released it as a live album, which eventually went Platinum.
Hill continues to tour to this day, performing material from The Miseducation and MTV Unplugged. Although new music from her has been scarce, she saw Drake reimagine “Ex-Factor” into his No. 1 hit, “Nice For What,” in 2018, and joined Pusha T on “Coming Home” in 2019.