Lauryn Hill has had an extraordinary career. She remains one of the greatest MCs period and her voice – in Fugees and her solo work – is one that defines the 1990s. Away from her work though, she’s had her fair share of trials and tribulations in the public eye which have overshadowed the last decade.
After meeting Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean in high school, Hill started teaching herself how to rap by copying other current stars like Ice Cube. The band broke out as Fugees after a brief period when they were called Tranzlator Crew and signed to Columbia in 1993.
L. Boogie became the real front-person of Fugees with her quick-fire, dynamite raps, style and attitude. While debut album ‘Blunted on Reality’ did relatively well, ‘The Score’ shot the band to global fame with ‘Killing Me Softly’ the breakout hit. It was around this time that Hill was accused of racism, a rumour she put right on The Harold Stern Show.
Following the phenomenal success of ‘The Score’, the band split up in 1997 with Wyclef Jean citing a relationship breakdown with Hill as the cause. At the time Hill was engaged in philanthropic work, setting up a not-for-profit organisation for at-risk youths. She was still only 21 at this time and leaving with her parents.
But Hill’s career wasn’t over. Far from it. In 1997, she started recording her solo masterpiece ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.’ It was a feminist album, positioning Hill as a contemporary poet with statements to make instead of a sex symbol. It delved into her own personal life and featured guest spots from D’Angelo, Santana and loads more.
The album was a huge success and sold half a million copies in its first week. Over a couple of years it made Hill $25million dollars and became one of the most loved and applauded albums critically and commercially of the 1990s. She was the first woman to take home five Grammys in one night.
But a law suit filed by New Ark, a music group who helped on ‘Miseducation, marked a turn for series of struggles in Lauryn Hill’s life. New Ark claimed they weren’t acknowledged enough for their work and Hill had to pay out a significant amount of money.
In 2000 Hill stepped back from the public eye amid the pressure of fame. She reportedly got involved with a cult leader and there were questions about her self-imposed exile. Soon though ‘Unplugged 2.0’ was released. It was a sparse and personal listen and though well reviewed didn’t do well commercially.
Since then Hill has toured sporadically including with a notoriously scatty Fugees reunion. No-shows and dodgy performances led to worries about her health and in 2012 she was charged with tax evasion and imprisoned for just under three months.
In the last few months Lauryn Hill has made a few live performances and seems in good voice. A new LP may be on its way too. O2 Priority Tickets for Lauryn Hill’s UK show will be available from 9am on Wednesday 30 April. Get Priority tickets to thousands of gigs up to 48 hours before general release, on O2– text TICKETS to 2020.