Ms. Lauryn Hill’s Triumphant Return: Celebrating 25 Years of 'The Miseducation'

From intimate renditions of her iconic tracks to a nostalgic Fugees reunion, Hill's Newark performance is a testament to her unparalleled legacy in the music industry.

Regarding hip-hop and R&B, the genres can be divided into before and after Lauryn Hill. The seismic impact of her artistry has left an unquestionable impact on the culture. 

Following her meteoric rise to superstardom as a member of The Fugees, where she bequeathed to the masses a sultry, sanguine cover version of Roberta Flack's somber ballad "Killing Me Softly," Hill became a global sensation with the release of the group’s second and final album The Score. Her next act was a momentous step in the making of a legend when she released her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Released on August 25, 1998, Miseducation was instantly hailed as a classic, with Hill conveying an unwavering pathos backed by sublime lyricism and musicianship. Garnering critical acclaim, Miseducation earned Hall five Grammy Awards, including  “Best New Artist” and a Grammy Award for “Album of the Year.”

Fast forward to 2023, and now going by Ms. Lauryn Hill, she has overcome personal struggles and, at times, being elusive to the point of her detriment as an artist to celebrate her magnum opus with a world tour.

Kicking off the first night of the tour, which was promoted by AG Entertainment, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, Hill,  accompanied by a full band, 8-piece orchestra, background singers, and a local marching band,  returned to her old stomping grounds where her vision

Hitting the stage at around 10 p.m., the restless audience was immediately held captive by the mere presence and aura of Ms. Hill as she emerged on the stage.  Donning a couture ensemble where she resembled a rose that grew out of the concrete streets of East Orange, NJ, she slayed everything moving in the Prudential Center.

Lauryn Hill Announces ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 25th Anniversary Tour’

From the moment she launched into her first song, "Everything is Everything," backed by an exceptionally tight band, Hill was off to the races and never looked back. She reeled off album cuts “When It Hurts So Bad” and “Superstar" with the capacity crowd chanting every word.

The biggest pop of the evening came when Hill performed “Lost Ones,” which took that show into another stratosphere. A signature tune by Hill, she unleashed an undeniable wave of energy that could be felt from the stage to the seats in the rafters.

Slowing the set down, Hill and company performed incredible renditions of “Ex-Factor,” “To Zion,” “Nothing Even Matters,” and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You.” Hill's artistry and songwriting are timeless, as songs she recorded almost three decades ago sounded fresh as she mesmerized everyone in the building.

Interestingly, Hill flowed seamlessly into each song, at a blistering pace, without sharing any commentary on how the songs were created or sharing stories about the context of the tracks.  Her adoring fans would have well received her insight into some of her iconic songs in attendance.

Concluded her set, she dropped “Doo Wop (That Thing),” which turned into an all-out party with the entire audience dancing in their seats. It was a marvelous sight.

After completing her Miseducation set, Hill took time to express her gratitude to her parents for their support through the highs and lows of her storied career

“It's our first show and it's a  little challenging because we're home and I’ve been emotional,” Hill explained to an outburst of cheers from the crowd. “God, in his infinite kindness, infinite grace, chose to have me be born through two incredible parents. My mother, Valerie Hill, and my father, Mal Hill… They were disciplinarians because they were lovers of me and my brother’s souls, our minds, our bodies, our hearts, and our spirits. They wanted to see us thrive.”

Ms. Lauryn Hill, Pras Michél and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees at the 2023 Global Citizen Festival in New York on September 23, 2023 at the Great Lawn of Central Park in New York City, New York. (Photo by Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images)

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As the room went dark, the stage was set for what was seen as an impossibility just a few years ago: A Fugees reunion.  Wyclef Jean and Pras joined Hill on stage to thunderous applause as they performed some of their songs, such as “Vocab,” “Nappy Heads,” "How Many Mics," "Family Business," No Woman, No Cry," "Cowboys" (featuring the Outsidaz), "Fu-Gee-La" "Ready or Not," and the final song of the night “Killing Me Softly.” That magic produced by one of the most critically acclaimed groups was an experience,

Although Hill has not released an official follow-up to Miseducation, the album's ethos spoke to and still speaks to the strength and vulnerability of the Black woman's experience and how to navigate the unpredictability of human relationships.

Adroitly, Hill rapped and sang from the perspective of a young Black woman about love, sex, motherhood, and heartbreak, with a deep transparency that transcends genres and generations.

Her tardiness notwithstanding, Hill owned the stage from beginning to end. Her vocal prowess, breath control, and raw energy left the audience in awe of her genius.

After 25 years, Ms. Lauryn Hill’s homecoming in Newark felt like the culmination of her as a rare jewel that could never be duplicated. Throughout the show, she kept reminding the crowd that she was finally home.  Home is where we can be our authentic selves unapologetically. It's where we discover the essence of who we are, flaws and all.

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