The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill is an iconic album that has continued to captivate music lovers ever since its release in 1998. The album defied expectations with its genre-bending fusion of Hip Hop, R&B, and soul, and went on to become a seminal work in the world of music. With its deeply personal lyrics, intricate arrangements, and soulful vocal performances, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains a touchstone for artists and fans alike. It went on to become a cultural phenomenon and has often been cited as one of the most influential albums of all time, regardless of genre.
With its introspective lyrics and soulful melodies, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a departure from the gangsta rap that had dominated Hip Hop in the 1990s. It explored themes of love, race, identity, heartbreak, and social justice, and showcased Hill’s unique ability to seamlessly fuse multiple genres. Few albums have had the cultural impact and critical acclaim of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album earned Hill numerous accolades, including ten Grammy nominations and five wins, including Album of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best R&B Album. The album continues to influence a new generation of artists, with its message of self-love, empowerment, and social awareness resonating with listeners worldwide.
With timeless songs such as “Ex-Factor”, “Every Ghetto, Every City”, “Lost Ones”, and “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, Lauryn Hill delivered a collection of hits that are both deeply personal and socially conscious with rare honesty and vulnerability. These tracks are the centerpieces of an album that is nothing short of monumental, cementing Lauryn Hill’s status as a musical visionary and ensuring that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill will be remembered as an all-time classic musical masterpiece.
If you’re a fan of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and want to explore more music that shares its spirit or its sound (or both), then look no further. In this list, we’ll explore 20 albums that will resonate with fans of Lauryn Hill’s groundbreaking album – some well-known classics, some more obscure, some straight Hip Hop, and some more leaning in the (neo)soul direction. From the conscious lyrics of Common to the jazz-infused sounds of The Roots, from the raw emotion of Kendrick Lamar to the perfection of Little Simz, these albums represent the best of soulful, genre-bending Hip Hop and are essential listening for anyone who loves The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Mecca & The Soul Brother (1992)
Released in 1992, Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s debut album Mecca & The Soul Brother is a timeless classic that showcases the duo’s unparalleled chemistry and musicianship. The album is a perfect blend of soulful samples, funky basslines, and impeccable lyricism that firmly cemented their place in the pantheon of golden-era Hip Hop.
Pete Rock, born Peter O. Phillips, hails from Mount Vernon, New York. He started his career as a DJ and producer, crafting beats for his cousin, rapper Heavy D. He first met CL Smooth, born Corey Penn, in high school, and the two soon formed a rap group called the “Chocolate Boy Wonders.” The duo signed with Elektra Records in 1990, and their debut EP All Souled Out was released in the same year. However, it was Mecca & The Soul Brother that truly put them on the map and earned them critical acclaim (without great commercial success, though).
The album is an expansive 80-minute journey that seamlessly flows from one track to another. The opening track, “Return of the Mecca”, sets the tone for the album, with Pete Rock’s signature horn samples and CL Smooth’s smooth flow. From there, the album takes the listener on a ride through various moods and themes, from the introspective “Lots of Lovin” to the socially conscious “Anger in the Nation” to the playful posse cut “The Basement”.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)“, a tribute to their fallen friend Troy Dixon, who was a member of Heavy D’s crew. The track features a sample from Tom Scott’s “Today,” which Pete Rock skillfully chops and rearranges into a soulful, melancholic beat that perfectly complements CL Smooth’s heartfelt lyrics. “T.R.O.Y.” is widely regarded as one of the greatest Hip Hop songs of all time and remains a fan favorite to this day.
In many ways, Mecca & The Soul Brother shares similarities with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Both albums are genre-bending masterpieces that showcase the artists’ versatility and musicianship. Both albums also touch on themes of love, loss, and self-reflection, with Lauryn Hill’s album exploring themes of womanhood and motherhood in addition to more traditional Hip Hop topics. Both albums represent the pinnacle of their respective artists’ careers and continue to serve as touchstones for the genres of Hip Hop and neo-soul.
Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Mecca & The Soul Brother is a deeply personal album that reflects the experiences and perspectives of its creators. Pete Rock and CL Smooth were able to craft a work of art that speaks to the struggles and triumphs of the Black experience in America, while also showcasing their own unique talents and personalities.
Mecca & The Soul Brother is a true masterpiece. With its soulful beats, thoughtful lyrics, and impeccable flow, the album paved the way for future generations of Hip Hop artists and remains a shining example of the genre’s golden era. Its similarities to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill highlight the enduring nature of both albums and cement their status as timeless works of art that continue to influence and inspire to this day.
Fugees - The Score (1996)
Fugees are a legendary Hip Hop trio consisting of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel. The trio formed in the early 1990s and quickly gained a following with their socially conscious lyrics and innovative sound. Their second album, The Score, released in 1996, solidified their place in Hip Hop history.
The Score is a masterwork, blending elements of reggae, soul, and R&B with a gritty, East Coast Hip Hop sound. The album’s production is a collaborative effort between Fugees and producers such as Salaam Remi, Jerry Duplessis, and John Forté. The result is a sound that is both unique and timeless.
Fugees tackle a range of social and political issues, from poverty to police brutality to the war on drugs. The album’s lead single, “Fu-Gee-La,” features Lauryn Hill’s soulful vocals and sharp rhymes, while “Ready or Not” incorporates a sample “Ready or Not (Here I Come)” by The Delfonics and features Wyclef Jean’s smooth flow. Other standouts include “How Many Mics”, “Cowboys”, “The Score”, and the hit singles “No Woman, No Cry” and “Killing Me Softly”. The album’s closer, “Manifest/Outro,” is a powerful meditation that touches on themes of betrayal, love, pain, and the struggle for justice.
Both Miseducation and The Score blend Hip Hop with other styles of music, creating a sound that is both innovative and accessible. They both tackle social and political issues, using music as a means of expressing their views and inspiring change. Both albums also showcase the individual talents of their respective artists.
Despite these similarities, there are also differences between the two albums. The Score obviously is a collaborative effort between the three Fugees members, while The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is primarily a solo album. Fugees’ album is also more focused on traditional Hip Hop production, while Hill’s solo album incorporates a wider range of musical styles.
Another difference is in the themes explored on the two albums. While both albums touch on social and political issues, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is more personal in nature, exploring themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. The Score, on the other hand, is more focused on issues affecting society as a whole.
Fugees’ The Score is a timeless classic that showcased the group’s unique blend of reggae, Hip Hop, and R&B, while also delivering socially conscious messages that are still relevant today. The album’s success helped to launch the solo career of Lauryn Hill and would prove to be the perfect stepping stone for her monumental solo debut.
Wycleff Jean - The Carnival (1997)
Wyclef Jean’s debut solo album, The Carnival, released in 1997, was the second part of a Refugee Camp trilogy that included Fugees’ The Score in 1996 and Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill in 1998. A Haitian-American rapper, singer, and producer, Wyclef Jean was already an accomplished musician before releasing The Carnival, having been a member of the Fugees and producing hit songs for other artists.
The Carnival is a musically rich and diverse album that showcases Wyclef Jean’s eclectic tastes and Haitian roots. It is filled with colorful tales of life, women, music, and the culture of his native country. With standout tracks like “Gunpowder,” “The Year Of The Dragon,” “Guantanamera,” and the single “Gone Til November,” the album is a perfect blend of Hip Hop, reggae, and Caribbean rhythms.
Like Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation, The Carnival has a universal appeal that extends beyond just Hip Hop fans. The album’s fusion of different genres, languages, and cultures reflects Wyclef Jean’s diverse upbringing and experiences. He sings in Haitian Creole, Spanish, and English, creating a unique sound that is both familiar and exotic.
In addition to the catchy beats and infectious hooks, The Carnival also features socially conscious lyrics that address issues of poverty, inequality, and violence. Songs like “To All The Girls,” “Apocalypse,” and “Street Jeopardy” tackle these serious topics with a blend of wit and wisdom.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “Guantanamera,” a reimagining of the traditional Cuban folk song. Wyclef Jean’s version features verses in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, and showcases his mastery of different musical styles. The song’s catchy chorus and upbeat tempo make it a fan favorite that still gets played at parties and clubs today. Another standout track is “Gone Til November,” a catchy tune about the struggles of touring and being away from loved ones. The song’s video features Wyclef Jean performing in different countries, highlighting the album’s global influences.
The Carnival is an excellent record that solidified Wyclef Jean’s status as a solo artist and showcased his talents as a musician, rapper, and producer. With its diverse range of musical styles and socially conscious lyrics, the album is a must-listen for any Hip Hop fan or music lover in general.
OutKast - Aquemini (1998)
OutKast is one of the most iconic and innovative Hip Hop duos in the history of the genre. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, André 3000 and Big Boi first rose to fame with their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994 and the iconic ATLiens in 1996, but it was their third album Aquemini, released in 1998, that cemented their status as Hip Hop legends.
Aquemini is an epic album, with André 3000 and Big Boi delivering some of their most inspired and creative performances. The album is a fusion of genres, incorporating elements of funk, soul, jazz, and rock, while still remaining true to their Southern roots. The beats are complex and layered, with live instrumentation and samples blending seamlessly together. Lyrically, the duo tackles a range of social and personal issues, from racism and social injustices to love and relationships.
The album’s title, Aquemini, is a portmanteau of André 3000 and Big Boi’s astrological signs, Aquarius and Gemini. This theme of duality is present throughout the album, both in the production and the lyrics. The duo seamlessly blends their unique styles and personalities, creating a sound that is both cohesive and diverse.
There are certainly similarities between Aquemini and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Both albums transcend the genre, incorporating elements of other genres to create a unique sound. They both address a range of social and personal issues with honesty and vulnerability. And both are driven by the singular vision of their respective artists.
But where The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a deeply personal and introspective album, Aquemini is a celebration of the collective. André 3000 and Big Boi have always been champions of Southern Hip Hop, and on this album, they pay tribute to the genre and its roots. They bring in collaborators from all over the musical spectrum, including George Clinton, Raekwon, Cee-Lo Green, and Erykah Badu, creating a sense of community that is palpable throughout the album.
Standout tracks on Aquemini include “Rosa Parks”, “Liberation”, and “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”, but the entire album is a journey worth taking. It’s an album that demands multiple listens to truly appreciate the depth and complexity of the production and the lyrics. Aquemini is an album that transcends genre and time and is as good today as it was when it was released over two decades ago.
The Roots - Things Fall Apart (1999)
The Roots have long been known as one of the most respected and innovative groups in Hip Hop, and their fourth album, Things Fall Apart, is a testament to that. Led by Questlove’s impeccable production and Black Thought’s socially conscious lyrics and virtuosic flow, the album is a cohesive and powerful statement on the state of society and the human condition.
Featuring appearances from fellow conscious emcees like Common and Mos Def, as well as contributions from the group’s other talented members, including Malik B and Dice Raw, Things Fall Apart is a true group effort that showcases the strengths of each individual member. The album’s top tracks, including “The Next Movement,” “You Got Me,” “Double Trouble,” and “Act Too (The Love of My Life),” are all standout examples of The Roots’ ability to combine thought-provoking lyrics with impeccable production and musicianship.
Just like with Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation, Things Fall Apart is an album that goes beyond the confines of the Hip Hop genre, and has been widely regarded as a landmark release in contemporary music. The Roots’ ability to fuse live instrumentation with traditional Hip Hop production techniques is unparalleled, and the result is a sound that is both timeless and forward-thinking.
While The Roots may have continued to release excellent albums throughout their career, Things Fall Apart remains a high point, and a defining moment not just for the group, but for Hip Hop as a whole. Its lasting impact can be seen in the countless artists who have cited it as an influence, and in its enduring relevance in the current cultural climate.
In many ways, Things Fall Apart and Miseducation share similar themes and approaches to their subject matter. Both albums are unapologetically political, addressing issues like racism, poverty, and social injustice head-on. Both feature a diverse array of musical styles and influences, incorporating elements of soul, jazz, and rock into their sound. And both are anchored by the powerful voices of their respective lead vocalists, whose lyrical prowess and commanding presence make them forces to be reckoned with.
In the end, what sets Things Fall Apart apart is its uncompromising vision and its willingness to tackle difficult subject matter with honesty and integrity. The album remains a testament to The Roots’ commitment to pushing the boundaries of Hip Hop and using the genre as a means to shed light on important issues facing society today. For fans of both Hip Hop and music in general, Things Fall Apart is an essential listen that continues to resonate over two decades after its release.
Common - Like Water For Chocolate (2000)
Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., better known by his stage name Common, is a rapper, actor, and author hailing from Chicago, Illinois. He started his career in the early 90s and gained critical acclaim with his second album Resurrection in 1994. Common has since released over a dozen studio albums, including Like Water For Chocolate, which is often considered his best work alongside Be (2005).
Released in 2000, Like Water For Chocolate is a landmark album that marked a shift in Common’s sound and subject matter. The album’s title is a reference to the novel of the same name by Laura Esquivel and serves as a metaphor for the way Common’s music nourishes the listener’s soul.
Like Water For Chocolate is a powerful album that showcases Common’s lyrical dexterity, social consciousness, and ability to craft deeply personal songs. It’s an album that touches on themes of love, spirituality, family, and social justice, all while showcasing Common’s smooth flow and impeccable storytelling, backed by soulful and jazzy production from heavyweights like J Dilla, Questlove, and DJ Premier. This album has aged like fine wine and remains one of the rare works of art that musically transcends the genre of Hip Hop while staying true to its core.
Similar to Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, this album showcases the musical and lyrical depth of Common, who is able to weave together personal experiences with social commentary, bringing attention to issues like race, politics, and poverty. The album features standout tracks such as “The Light,” “6th Sense,” “Dooinit,” and “The Questions.”
This album is not only a demonstration of Common’s skills as an emcee, but also as a storyteller, as he takes listeners on a journey through his life experiences, both good and bad. He paints vivid pictures through his rhymes, and this album has been celebrated for its ability to touch the listener’s soul. The combination of soulful production and conscious lyrics make Like Water For Chocolate an album that has stood the test of time and is one that every Hip Hop fan should have in their collection.
Little Brother – The Listening (2003)
Little Brother is a Hip Hop group hailing from North Carolina, consisting of members Phonte, Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder. The group was formed in the early 2000s and quickly gained recognition in the underground Hip Hop scene for its soulful beats, clever lyrics, and innovative style.
Their debut album, The Listening, released in 2003, is widely regarded as a classic and an essential part of any Hip Hop fan’s collection. The album’s title is a nod to the group’s philosophy of “listening” to the genre’s roots and honoring the greats that came before them while adding their own unique spin.
Much like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The Listening is an album that perfectly captures the spirit and vibes of classic early and mid-90s Hip Hop. The album’s soulful sounds pay homage to legends such as De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees, and The Roots, but still manages to stand out as its own entity.
Throughout the album, Phonte and Big Pooh’s rhymes effortlessly flow over 9th Wonder’s exceptional beats, showcasing the group’s tight chemistry and raw talent. Tracks such as “Whatever You Say” and “The Way You Do It” showcase Little Brother’s ability to create head-bobbing, feel-good jams, while “Away From Me” and the title track “The Listening” dive deeper into personal introspection and social commentary.
Despite its critical acclaim, The Listening went relatively unnoticed in the mainstream, serving as a testament to the group’s commitment to preserving the authenticity of the genre rather than chasing commercial success. It’s a true gem for those who appreciate Hip Hop in its purest form. Little Brother’s The Listening is an album that perfectly captures the essence of classic Hip Hop while still feeling fresh and relevant today. It’s a timeless piece of music that deserves to be recognized as a true classic and essential listening for any fan of the genre.
Nujabes - Modal Soul (2005)
Nujabes was a Japanese producer and DJ known for his unique blend of jazz, Hip Hop, and classical music. Born Seba Jun in 1974 in Tokyo, Nujabes began his musical career as a DJ in the 1990s, eventually starting his own record label, Hydeout Productions. His music gained international attention through his work on the anime series Samurai Champloo, which featured his beats and instrumentals throughout the soundtrack.
Modal Soul, released in 2005, is often considered to be Nujabes’ masterpiece. The album showcases his signature style of intricate and soulful beats, featuring a range of vocalists including Cise Starr of CYNE, Terry Callier, and Shing02. The album’s title is a nod to the “modal jazz” subgenre, which emphasizes improvisation and non-traditional chord progressions.
Nujabes’ use of vocal samples is particularly noteworthy on Modal Soul. Tracks like “Feather” and “Luv(sic) Part 3” feature haunting vocals that are woven into the fabric of the music, adding a layer of emotional depth to the already richly textured instrumentals. Nujabes was a master at finding just the right sample to complement his beats, and his meticulous attention to detail is evident throughout Modal Soul.
One of the most striking aspects of Modal Soul is the way it creates a sense of atmosphere and mood. Each track feels like a miniature world, with its own unique sonic palette and emotional resonance, each track on the album creates a distinct sense of place and time. The intricacy of Nujabes’ production is such that each composition reveals new layers and textures upon repeated listens. The album’s fusion of different genres and styles is a testament to Nujabes’ musical vision, and his ability to create something truly unique and timeless.
Tragically, Nujabes passed away in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 36, leaving behind a legacy of innovative and genre-defying music. Modal Soul is a masterly fusion of (semi)instrumental Hip Hop, jazz, and classical music. Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Modal Soul defies easy categorization, blending together different genres and styles to create something truly unique and timeless. The album’s intricate production, emotive vocal samples, and atmospheric mood create a listening experience that rewards close attention. Nujabes’ legacy continues to inspire and influence artists today, and Modal Soul remains a high point in his impressive body of work.
Little Brother – The Minstrel Show (2005)
The Minstrel Show can be compared to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill due to its thematic approach aiming for upliftment, and its impact on the Hip Hop community. Like Hill’s album, The Minstrel Show deals with social issues and challenges the norms of its time. In this case, Little Brother tackles the controversial topic of race and its representation in the entertainment industry.
The Minstrel Show was released in 2005, during a time when mainstream Hip Hop was becoming more focused on materialism, sex, and violence. Little Brother’s approach to music was a breath of fresh air for many listeners. Like The Listening (2003), the album was produced entirely by 9th Wonder, and Phonte and Big Pooh delivered intricate, thought-provoking lyrics that highlighted the complexities of being Black in America.
The album opens with a skit that sets the stage for the minstrel show theme. The skit features two white radio hosts who are promoting the show and discussing its various acts. The hosts make offensive comments and jokes about Black culture and Hip Hop, setting the tone for the album’s critique of racism and cultural appropriation.
Despite its heavy subject matter, The Minstrel Show is also a celebration of Hip Hop and Black culture. The album’s beats are soulful and jazzy, laced with samples from classic R&B and funk records. Phonte and Big Pooh’s lyrics are intelligent and witty, showcasing their storytelling abilities and their knack for delivering clever punchlines.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “All for You,”, a poignant exploration of the multifaceted nature of fatherhood and its profound influence on the lives of children. The track serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of acknowledging and addressing the challenges that come with this role and offers a message of hope and resilience to listeners. It encourages introspection and encourages individuals to work through their struggles and obstacles to build a brighter tomorrow. Other highlights include classic LB joints such as “Slow It Down”, “Lovin’ It”, “Watch Me”, “Beautiful Morning”, and “The Becoming”.
The Minstrel Show is a cohesive, well-crafted album that takes the listener on a journey through the history of Black entertainment. The album’s skits and interludes are reminiscent of a vaudeville show and highlight the parallels between the minstrel shows of the past and the modern entertainment industry. Little Brother’s approach to the album’s concept was both clever and thought-provoking, and it challenged listeners to reexamine the media they consume and its impact on society.
In addition to its social commentary, The Minstrel Show is also an impressive display of musical talent. 9th Wonder’s production is masterful, incorporating a range of samples and musical styles to create a cohesive sound that complements Little Brother’s lyrics perfectly. The Minstrel Show has aged well and continues to be a relevant and important album. Like Miseducation, The Minstrel Show challenged the norms of its time and paved the way for a new era of conscious Hip Hop. It is an album that deserves to be celebrated and remembered as a true masterpiece.
Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (2006)
Lupe Fiasco was born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco on February 16, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois. He developed a love for Hip Hop at a young age and began writing his own rhymes in his early teens. He gained recognition in the underground rap scene before signing with Atlantic Records in 2005.
His debut Food & Liquor, released in 2006), is a concept album that addresses themes of social inequality, racism, and the American dream. Lupe’s lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking, with intricate wordplay and metaphors that require multiple listens to fully appreciate. The production, handled by a variety of producers including Kanye West, is diverse and eclectic, incorporating elements of jazz, soul, and rock into the mix.
In many ways, Food & Liquor can be compared to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Both albums are conceptually driven, tackling complex social issues with intelligence and heart. They both feature strong production and powerful vocal performances that bring their respective themes to life.
The opening track, “Real,” sets the tone for the album, with Lupe rapping about the harsh realities of life in the inner city. The song’s soulful, jazzy production and Lupe’s introspective lyrics create a powerful sense of mood and atmosphere. The following track, “Just Might Be OK,” continues this theme, with Lupe rapping about the struggles of growing up in a violent and impoverished environment.
Tracks like “Daydreamin'” and “The Cool” are more upbeat and feature catchy hooks, but they still carry a serious message. “Daydreamin'” (with additional vocals from Jill Scott) is a commentary on the commercialization of Hip Hop, while “The Cool” tells the story of a young man caught up in the violence and drugs of the inner city.
The album’s standout track, “Kick, Push,” is a cleverly written story about a young skateboarder trying to find his place in the world. The song’s infectious beat and catchy chorus make it one of Lupe’s most popular songs, but its underlying message about the importance of following your dreams is what sets it apart.
Overall, Food & Liquor is a cohesive and powerful album that established Lupe Fiasco as one of the most intelligent and socially conscious rappers of his time. Like Miseducation, it addresses complex social issues with intelligence and heart and features strong production and powerful vocal performances that bring its themes to life. While Lupe has gone on to release several more excellent albums, Food & Liquor remains his most essential work and a true classic of the 2000s Hip Hop canon.
Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives (2010)
Distant Relatives is an album that seamlessly fuses the worlds of Hip Hop and Reggae. Released in 2010, it is a collaborative effort between two legends in their respective genres: Nas, the Queensbridge legend widely regarded as one of the greatest MCs of all time, and Damian Marley, the youngest son of Bob Marley and an accomplished Reggae artist in his own right. Distant Relatives explores themes of cultural identity, social justice, and spirituality, and is a testament to the power of collaboration and cross-cultural exchange.
Distant Relatives can be compared to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in lots of ways. Both albums speak to the need for unity and social justice in a world that is often divided by race, class, and nationality. Distant Relatives emphasizes the connections between African and Caribbean culture, highlighting the shared history and struggle of people of African descent across the diaspora. This message is delivered through a mix of hard-hitting Hip Hop and soulful Reggae, with Nas and Damian Marley trading verses and showcasing their unique styles. The album features samples from a variety of sources, including Ethiopian Jazz, African drums, and classic Reggae tracks. The result is a sonic tapestry that reflects the diversity and richness of African and Caribbean cultures.
The album opens with “As We Enter”, a high-energy track that sets the tone for what’s to come. Over a driving beat and a sample of Ethiopian Jazz musician Mulatu Astatke, Nas and Damian Marley deliver rapid-fire verses that showcase their lyrical prowess. The track is a celebration of their shared heritage and the power of music to unite people from different cultures. Another standout track is “Patience“, which features a sample of Amadou & Mariam’s “Sabali” and finds Nas and Damian Marley reflecting on the need for patience in the struggle for social justice.
Distant Relatives also features several collaborations with other artists, including K’naan on “Tribes At War” and “Africa Must Wake Up”, and Stephen Marley on “In His Own Words” and “Leaders.” These tracks highlight the album’s focus on collective action and the importance of coming together to effect change.
Distant Relatives is a powerful statement on the importance of unity and solidarity in the struggle for social justice. It is an album that transcends genre and geography, showcasing the power of music to connect people across cultural and national boundaries. In this sense, it is a fitting companion to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which similarly emphasizes the need for unity and understanding in a world that is often divided. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and cross-cultural exchange, and a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of people of African descent. Like Miseducation, it is an album that speaks to the universal struggle for social justice and the importance of staying true to oneself in the face of adversity.
Dessa - A Badly Broken Code (2010)
Dessa, born Margret Wander, is a Minneapolis-based artist known for her versatility as a rapper, singer, spoken-word poet, and writer. She gained recognition as a member of the Hip Hop collective Doomtree, but it was her solo work that really showcased her unique talent. Her 2010 album, A Badly Broken Code, is widely regarded as a masterwork, with critics praising its genre-bending sound and deeply personal lyrics – it certainly is one of our favorite Hip Hop adjacent projects of all time.
A Badly Broken Code defies categorization, blending elements of Hip Hop, pop, and spoken-word poetry into a cohesive and compelling whole. Dessa’s ability to seamlessly transition between singing and rapping is just one of the many things that set her apart as an artist. She effortlessly weaves together complex rhymes and melodies, creating a sound that is both sophisticated and accessible.
But it’s not just Dessa’s skills as a rapper and singer that make A Badly Broken Code such an incredible album. Her lyrics are deeply personal, and many of the songs deal with themes of heartbreak, loss, and identity. In many ways, A Badly Broken Code is an album about self-discovery and the search for identity. Dessa’s lyrics are deeply introspective, and she uses her music as a vehicle for exploring the complexities of the human experience. Whether she’s rapping about love and loss or singing about the struggles of growing up, her songs are always honest and heartfelt.
In the years since its release, A Badly Broken Code has only grown in stature, with many critics citing it as one of the best alternative Hip Hop albums of the 2010s. And while Dessa has gone on to release many more excellent albums since then, it’s clear that A Badly Broken Code is the one that truly put her on the map as a solo artist. With its intricate lyrics, innovative sound, and deeply personal themes, it’s an album that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest Hip Hop adjacent albums of all time – including, of course, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)
Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly is one of the most critically acclaimed Hip Hop albums of the past decade. Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it has been universally praised for its musical innovation, incisive social commentary, and deeply personal storytelling.
To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick’s third studio album and is widely regarded as his magnum opus. The album features a blend of jazz, funk, soul, and spoken-word poetry that draws from the musical traditions of Black America. Through its themes of racial injustice, self-discovery, and personal growth, the album serves as a powerful statement on the state of Black America in the 21st century.
The album’s title itself is a powerful statement. It is a reference to the classic children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” which tells the story of a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. In this context, Kendrick is drawing a parallel between the caterpillar’s metamorphosis and his own personal journey of self-discovery and growth.
Like Lauryn Hill, Kendrick is known for his ability to weave together multiple musical genres and influences into a cohesive whole. To Pimp a Butterfly features a range of musical styles, including funk, jazz, and soul. It also features spoken-word poetry and interludes that add to the album’s overall narrative arc.
At the heart of To Pimp a Butterfly is its incisive social commentary. Kendrick uses his platform to address issues of police brutality, racism, and the legacy of slavery in America. He also delves into personal issues, such as his own struggles with depression and self-doubt. One of the standout tracks on the album is “Alright,” which has become an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. The song’s chorus, “We gon’ be alright,” is a message of hope and resilience in the face of systemic racism and oppression. Another standout track is “King Kunta,” which draws inspiration from the legacy of Kunta Kinte, the central figure in Alex Haley’s Roots. The song is a powerful statement on the resilience and perseverance of Black people in the face of centuries of oppression.
In many ways, To Pimp a Butterfly can be seen as a continuation of the themes and ideas explored on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Both albums address issues of identity, social justice, and personal growth. Both artists use their music as a means of empowering and educating their audiences. Like Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar is known for his ability to tell deeply personal stories that resonate with listeners on a profound level. To Pimp a Butterfly features a range of autobiographical lyrics that explore Kendrick’s own struggles with fame, success, and self-doubt.
Perhaps the most striking similarity between these two albums is their emphasis on self-discovery and growth. Both Hill and Lamar use their music as a means of exploring their own identities and charting a course for personal growth and development. For both artists, music is a means of empowering themselves and their listeners to become the best versions of themselves.
Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred (2015)
Georgia Anne Muldrow’s 2015 album A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is a true testament to the power of music as a medium of self-expression and introspection. Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is a highly personal and introspective work that reflects the artist’s struggles, hopes, and aspirations.
Muldrow is a highly versatile musician who is known for her ability to seamlessly blend various genres and styles of music. A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is a testament to her eclectic tastes and her willingness to experiment with different sounds and textures. The album features a diverse array of musical styles, ranging from soul, jazz, and funk to Hip Hop and R&B. Muldrow’s music is characterized by its intricate rhythms, complex harmonies, and deeply emotional lyrics.
At its core, A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is an album about identity, self-discovery, and the search for meaning in a chaotic and confusing world. Muldrow’s lyrics are highly introspective and often philosophical, touching on topics such as spirituality, self-love, and the struggle for social justice.
Despite its deeply personal nature, A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is an album that has broad appeal. Muldrow’s music is both accessible and challenging, combining catchy melodies and infectious rhythms with socially conscious lyrics and complex harmonies. The album is a testament to the power of music to inspire and uplift and to the enduring legacy of Lauryn Hill’s groundbreaking work. If you are a fan of soulful, socially conscious music that challenges and inspires, then A Thoughtiverse Unmarred is an album that should not be missed.
Anderson.Paak - Malibu (2016)
Anderson .Paak’s Malibu is a musical masterpiece that can easily be compared to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. With Malibu, Anderson .Paak demonstrates a virtuosity and musical talent that blends a variety of styles, including Hip Hop, R&B, funk, jazz, soul, electronic, rock, and gospel, into his own signature sound. Like Lauryn Hill’s album, Malibu touches on a range of themes that are relevant to modern society, making it an instant classic that will continue to be revered for years to come.
One of the most impressive aspects of Malibu is how effortlessly Anderson .Paak shifts between singing and rapping. His voice is raw and soulful, and he uses it to convey a range of emotions, from introspection and heartache to joy and celebration. Tracks like “The Bird” and “The Season / Carry Me” are perfect examples of this, as Anderson .Paak’s vocals and lyrics convey both vulnerability and strength. The result is a deeply personal and powerful album that connects with listeners on a visceral level.
Another similarity between Malibu and Miseducation is the range of musical styles represented on each album. Both artists incorporate a wide variety of influences into their music, creating a sound that is uniquely their own. The themes explored on Malibu are also similar to those on Miseducation. Anderson .Paak touches on topics like love, family, and community, as well as the struggles faced by Black Americans. These themes are echoed in Lauryn Hill’s album, which touches on everything from love and relationships to social justice and spirituality.
Anderson .Paak’s Malibu is an album that connects with listeners on a deeply personal level, touching on universal themes like love, loss, and identity. Like Lauryn Hill’s classic album, Malibu was an instant classic that will continue to be celebrated and revered for years to come.
Rapsody - Laila's Wisdom (2017)
Rapsody’s second studio album Laila’s Wisdom is a powerful and insightful work of art that showcases the North Carolina rapper’s immense talent and profound storytelling ability. Released in 2017, the album features a range of themes, from personal struggles to social commentary, and explores the complexities of being a Black woman in America. In many regards, the album is reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, as both works delve deep into the experiences of Black women and the struggles they face in society.
Like Hill, Rapsody’s lyrical content is both introspective and socially conscious. She touches on topics such as power, racism, and colorism, as well as personal struggles with self-worth and the pressures of the music industry. Throughout the album, Rapsody demonstrates her ability to weave together intricate rhymes and metaphors that are both clever and profound. Her flow is impeccable, and her delivery is filled with emotion and passion.
Laila’s Wisdom is a powerful and thought-provoking album that showcases Rapsody’s immense talent as a rapper and storyteller. Both The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Laila’s Wisdom have had a significant impact on the Hip-Hop genre and beyond. They are both albums that showcase the immense talent of Black women in the music industry, and explore the unique challenges they face in a society that often marginalizes their voices. They also demonstrate the power of music as a tool for social commentary and cultural expression.
In a world where mainstream Hip Hop often prioritizes materialism and misogyny over social justice and personal growth, albums like Laila’s Wisdom and Miseducation serve as a reminder of the genre’s true potential. They are both works of art that challenge listeners to confront their own biases and assumptions and to strive for a better world. Like Lauryn Hill’s seminal record, Laila’s Wisdom is an album that should be treasured for its honesty, its artistry, and its enduring relevance.
Tyler, The Creator - Flower Boy (2017)
Tyler, The Creator burst onto the music scene in 2009 as part of the infamous Los Angeles-based collective Odd Future. Known for his controversial lyrics and raw, often chaotic production style, Tyler quickly made a name for himself as one of the most exciting and innovative artists in Hip Hop. Over the years, Tyler has continued to evolve as both an artist and a person, and his 2017 album Flower Boy is a testament to that growth.
Flower Boy is Tyler’s fourth studio album and is widely regarded as his most complete and cohesive work to date, his best album as far as we’re concerned. The album showcases Tyler’s talent as a producer, songwriter, and lyricist, and features a host of guest appearances from the likes of Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, and A$AP Rocky. From the lush, dreamy opening track “Foreword” to the introspective closer “Enjoy Right Now, Today,” “Flower Boy” is a masterclass in genre-blending and introspection.
Flower Boy is a deeply personal and introspective album that showcases an artist in transition. Tyler opens up about his personal life and struggles with loneliness, depression, and sexuality. The album is a departure from Tyler’s previous works, which often featured confrontational and provocative lyrics, and instead showcases a more vulnerable side of the artist.
While Flower Boy may be a departure from Tyler’s earlier works, it still retains the signature sound that has made him one of the most exciting and innovative artists in Hip Hop. The album features a diverse range of musical styles, from the jazzy “Where This Flower Blooms” to the funky “I Ain’t Got Time!” to the soulful “See You Again.” Throughout the album, Tyler’s production is both inventive and polished, with lush soundscapes that serve as the perfect backdrop for his introspective lyrics.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “911/Mr. Lonely,” which features a guest appearance from Frank Ocean. The song is a meditation on loneliness and features some of Tyler’s most personal lyrics to date. Over a dreamy instrumental, Tyler raps about feeling alone in a crowded room and struggling with the pressures of fame. The song is a testament to Tyler’s growth as a songwriter and his willingness to tackle difficult subject matter.
Another standout track on the album is “Boredom,” which features a guest appearance from Rex Orange County. The song is a reflection on the monotony of everyday life and the feeling of being trapped in a routine. Over a lush, piano-driven instrumental, Tyler delivers some of his most relatable lyrics, rapping about the desire to break free from the mundane and explore the world.
Flower Boy is a masterful album that showcases Tyler, The Creator at his best. Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the album is a deeply personal and introspective work that showcases an artist in transition. With its lush production, introspective lyrics, and diverse range of musical styles, Flower Boy is a testament to Tyler’s growth as an artist and his willingness to take risks and push the boundaries of what Hip Hop can be.
Haviah Mighty - 13th Floor (2019)
Haviah Mighty has made a name for herself in the Canadian Hip Hop scene as one-third of the acclaimed all-female group, the Sorority. However, it is her debut solo album, 13th Floor, that truly showcases her incredible talent as both an emcee and a singer. With poignant reflections on the challenges she has faced as a black woman, 13th Floor is a narratively ambitious project that showcases Haviah’s lyrical depth and musicality. The bass-heavy instrumentals serve as a perfect backdrop for her delivery, which effortlessly switches between rapping and singing.
At times, the album bears resemblance to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in its ability to combine elements of hip hop, R&B, and soul into a cohesive and musically rich project. Similarly, both Hill and Haviah Mighty use their personal experiences to craft socially conscious and empowering messages that resonate with listeners. While Hill’s album dealt with themes of love, relationships, and motherhood, 13th Floor delves into the struggles of being a Black woman in today’s society.
Despite being her debut solo album, 13th Floor shows that Haviah Mighty is a force to be reckoned with in the world of Hip Hop. The album is packed with standout tracks such as “Wishy Washy”, which features a hard-hitting beat and Haviah’s fierce flow, and “Thirteen”, a reflective and introspective track that showcases her impressive vocal range.
Haviah Mighty’s ability to balance raw vulnerability with unapologetic confidence is impressive. She doesn’t shy away from discussing the challenges and obstacles she has faced as a black woman in the music industry but instead uses these experiences to fuel her creativity and empower herself and others. This is perhaps best showcased on the track “In Women Colour”, where Haviah celebrates the strength and resilience of women of color in the face of adversity.
Overall, 13th Floor is a stunning effort from one of Canada’s most exciting Hip Hop artists. Haviah Mighty’s ability to combine her skills as an emcee and singer with her personal experiences and social commentary make this album a must-listen for anyone who appreciates musicality and lyrical depth. And while it may draw comparisons to Lauryn Hill’s classic album, 13th Floor stands firmly on its own as a unique and powerful work of art.
Seba Kaapstad - Thina (2019)
Seba Kaapstad is a neo-soul quartet that is comprised of Zoe Modiga (South Africa), Ndumiso Manana (Swaziland), Pheel (producer, Germany), and Sebastian Schuster (producer, Germany). The band came together in 2013 after meeting at a jam session in Cape Town, South Africa. Seba Kaapstad’s sound is influenced by neo-soul, jazz, electronica, and Hip Hop.
Their Thina is a true masterpiece that defies genre boundaries, effortlessly blending R&B, Hip Hop, neo-soul, and jazz into a cohesive and unique sound. While neo-soul may be the closest label to describe their music, it hardly does justice to the sheer creativity and originality on display. Released in 2019, through the renowned Mello Music Group label, Thina is a work of art that deserves recognition from a wide audience.
The album’s title, “Thina,” comes from the Zulu word for “us.” The music they create represents not just their individual backgrounds, but also their collective experiences and ideas. The result is a stunning blend of soulful sounds from all over the world, transcending traditional genre labels and reflecting the band’s multicultural identity.
Thina is a deeply moving album that draws on the lineage of its creators, whose pasts have been marked by suffering and trauma. But through their music, they find healing and unity. The album’s beats and melodies are infused with soul, jazz, electronic experimentation, and the rhythms of Africa, creating a sound that is at once timeless and contemporary.
As you listen to Thina, you may hear echoes of some of the greats of soul music, like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Lauryn Hill. But Seba Kaapstad’s sound is entirely their own, and they bring something new and exciting to the table. Their music is marrow-deep, digging beneath the surface to reach into your bloodstream and innermost thoughts. The album is a journey that takes you from one emotion to another, with each track building on the last to create a cohesive whole.
Thina is a testament to the power of music to connect people across cultures and backgrounds. Seba Kaapstad’s artistry and vision are evident in every note and every lyric, and the album is a true masterpiece that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (2021)
Little Simz, born Simbiatu Ajikawo in 1994, is a British-Nigerian rapper, singer, and actress. She first gained recognition in the UK Hip Hop scene with her mixtapes, which were released in the early 2010s. Her debut album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, was released in 2015, and her subsequent albums, Stillness in Wonderland (2016) and Grey Area (2019) cemented her reputation as a versatile and innovative artist.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is Little Simz’s fourth studio album, released in September 2021. The album was met with critical acclaim and was praised for its musicality, scope, and ambition. Little Simz has been hailed as one of the most exciting and innovative voices in contemporary Hip Hop, and Sometimes I Might Be Introvert has been described as her magnum opus.
Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert tackles a range of personal and social issues, including race, identity, self-esteem, and family. Little Simz’s lyrics are introspective and thoughtful, and she delivers them with a powerful and commanding flow. The album’s production is similarly diverse, incorporating elements of hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, Afro-beat, and even synth-funk.
At 65 minutes, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a lengthy album, but Little Simz’s superior flow and lyricism ensure that it never feels overlong. The album’s 19 tracks are sequenced perfectly – picking “Introvert” as the album opener was cleverly done, as it sets the whole thematic and philosophical scene of what Little Simz set out to do with this record. Production on Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is virtually flawless – straddling numerous genres from hard-hitting Hip Hop to R&B and neo-soul, to Afro-beat and even synth-funk, going from orchestral and bombastic to smooth and laid-back seamlessly. So many different influences crammed into one record resulting in an entirely cohesive package: this is an album unlike any other.
“Introvert”, “Woman”, “Little Q, Pt 2”, “Two Worlds Apart”, “Speed”, “Standing Ovation”, “I See You”, “Rollin Stone”, “Point and Kill”, “How Did You Get Here”, “Miss Understood”, nothing but stand-out songs on this album. And let’s not forget the album’s absolute highlight, “I Love You I Hate You”, a symphonic tour-de-force, with Little Simz rapping over a sweeping orchestral arrangement.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a stunning achievement and a testament to Little Simz’s talent and ambition. Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it is an album that will undoubtedly stand the test of time and continue to be celebrated for years to come.
I would add Big Daddy Kane with his band Las Supper. Their album “Back To The Future” was a mix of hip hop and soul. Such a dope slept on project, but that’s probably because it flew under the radar when it came out in 2013.
I would add Mos Def “ Black on Both Sides. “