The Best Of Lauryn Hill: 12 Songs From An Iconic Artist

Photo Credit: Cristina Andina/Redferns

From the moment her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill hit shelves in 1998, Lauryn Hill has been misunderstood.

Prior to its release, Hill was the breakout star of the iconic hip-hop group Fugees, alongside Pras and Wyclef Jean. In 1997, she appeared on the Love Jones soundtrack with her single “The Sweetest Thing,” an emotional song that would become a precursor for things to come.

Due to several circumstances (some of which have been highly publicized), Hill has a relatively small body of work, which makes her music even more remarkable. Blunted on Reality was a raw and organic project full of potential, The Score is a classic hip-hop LP, the argument can be made that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of the greatest albums of all time, and her live album Unplugged 2.0 was both transparent and introspective and gave audience a deeper look into Hill as a human being.

She has been featured on songs such as “Retrospect for Life,” “All That I Can Say,” and most notably, “If I Ruled the World” with Nas. She recently linked up with the Queensbridge rapper on “Nobody,” where Hill let the world know what she had been up to all these years, and also showed that her skill as an emcee was still top notch.

Anytime Hill decides to put pen to paper and words on wax something amazing comes of it. Here are some of her best songs to date.

12. “Everything Is Everything”

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

The third and final single from Hill’s debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill spoke about the struggle of being a youth in the inner city. Accompanied by an amazing video, this song also marked the first mainstream credit for John Legend on piano. Her braggadocious rhymes on top of near-flawless production made “Everything Is Everything” one of the best tracks in Hill’s catalog.

11. “The Sweetest Thing”

Album: Love Jones Soundtrack

Hill unofficially embarked on her solo career in 1997 with “The Sweetest Thing,” from the Love Jones soundtrack. The song exuded passion and one’s longing for their true love. Hill always expressed her admiration for the beautiful skin tone of Black people.

10. “Ready or Not”

Album: The Score

Drawing inspiration from the chorus of The Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love),” this track showcased Hill’s undeniable talent as an emcee. On the song, she raps: “I play my enemies like a game of chess/ Where I rest, no stress if you don’t smoke sess/ Lest I must confess, my destiny’s manifest/ In some Gore-Tex and sweats, I make treks like I’m homeless/ Rap orgies with Porgy and Bess/ Capture your bounty like Elliot Ness, yes.”

9. “If I Ruled the World”

Album: It Was Written

From their very first song together, you know these two had chemistry. In 1996, Lauryn linked up with Nas on the classic track “If I Ruled the World.” Produced by Trackmasters, this cut had one of the most memorable hooks in hip-hop. They collaborated again 25 years later on “Nobody” off of King’s Disease 2.

8. “How Many Mics”

Album: The Score

From the Fugees’ iconic album, The Score, “How Many Mics” was a rap clinic by the New Jersey native. It was on this track where Hill further established herself as a dual threat in the music industry and forced musicians – both male and female – to expand their creativity.

7. “Turn Your Lights Down Low”

Album: Chant Down Babylon

Normally, the “remix from a legacy act merged with a current artist” thing doesn’t work, but as with everything, there are outliers. 1999’s duet between Hill and the legendary Bob Marley titled “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” was a beautiful ballad between two masters at their craft.

6. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Covered from Frankie Valli’s 1977 song of the same name, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was met with critical acclaim and was ultimately nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop vocal Performance in 1999.

5. “Fu-Gee-La”

Album: The Score

Produced by Salaam Remi, “Fu-Gee-La” was the first single off The Score. True to form, Hill spits rhymes like “Oddly enough, I can see right through your bluff/ Niggas huff, and they puff but they can’t handle us, we bust”

4. “Doo Wop (That Thing)”

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Lauryn’s “official” debut solo single was “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Written, performed, and produced by Hill, this song had themes of empowerment, self-love, and awareness. “Doo Wop” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts and won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song at the 1999 Grammy Awards.

3. “Ex-Factor”

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

One of Hill’s best songs, “Ex-Factor” tells the story of the emotions that come with that ex that you just can’t let go – through good and bad times. The track begins with the popular line “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard.”

2. “Killing Me Softly With His Song”

Album: The Score

This version is actually the second time it was covered. Lori Lieberman was the first to perform the song, then Robert Flack almost 25 years prior to the Fugees’ version. The track also sampled “Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest – paying homage to both hip-hop and soul.

1. “To Zion”

Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Perhaps the most beautiful song in Hill’s entire body of work, “To Zion” was written for her first-born son, Zion. It featured legendary guitarist Carlos Santana and focused on the joy of raising a Black boy, and the deep responsibility that comes with motherhood.

TOPICS:  birthday Fugees Lauryn Hill

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