The Return Of The Fugees and The Celebration of The 25th Anniversary of Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” Review+Photos: Lauren Hill & Fugees at Crypto Arena 11/4/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- As I stepped into the vibrant Crypto Arena on November 4th, the air was charged with excitement and anticipation. The occasion was none other than the 25th Anniversary Tour of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” a night that promised to be a musical pilgrimage down memory lane. For me, it was a journey back to the days when The Fugees and Lauryn Hill ruled the charts and reshaped the hip-hop and R&B landscape forever.
“The Score,” released during the spring semester of my freshman year of college, was a game-changer. It wasn’t just impressive; it was revolutionary. The Fugees’ album wasn’t just music; it was a cultural phenomenon. Its fusion of old-school R&B, hip-hop, and reggae beats resonated with an entire generation. But it wasn’t just about the music; it was about the memories it created. When I returned home during summer break, my high school friends and I would cruise through town, the car stereo blaring “The Score.” It was our anthem, our soundtrack, and a testament to the bond we shared.
A few years later, during my senior year of college, Lauryn Hill released her solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Once again, she flipped the script and rewrote the rules of the game. Her album wasn’t just a musical masterpiece; it was a cultural touchstone that shifted the entire musical landscape. It wasn’t just an album for women; it was an album that gave women an artist they could deeply respect and look up to. Lauryn Hill’s solo journey was a revelation, a testament to the power of a singular voice breaking barriers and stereotypes.
The night kicked off with a warm-up act by DJ Reborn, who provided a lively mix of old-school R&B, hip-hop, and Afrobeat. Despite some less-than-smooth transitions between tracks, she managed to get the crowd going, bridging the gap between generations. Her generational vibe check, asking everyone born in each decade to make some noise, highlighted the diverse and enthusiastic audience.
Lauryn Hill herself took the stage and launched into a set that featured 11 of the 15 songs from her seminal album. From the infectious “Everything Is Everything” to the raw intensity of “Lost Ones” and the soulful “Ex-Factor,” she delivered the hits that defined a generation. The crowd’s attempts to sing along to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” were endearing and heartfelt.
During “To Zion,” Lauryn shared a deeply personal moment with the audience, projecting a photo slideshow of her family on the LED screens behind her. It was a touching tribute that underscored the themes of love and family that permeated her set. Her words emphasized the universality of love’s transcendent power, stating that we should all be mirrors, reflecting light into the world. She also celebrated her mother’s birthday, paying homage to the woman who raised her right. To top it off, her son Josh joined her on stage for a heartwarming performance of “Marching to Freedom.”
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of music, there are certain albums that not only endure the test of time but also transcend it, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural tapestry. One such masterpiece that continues to captivate hearts and minds, more than two decades since its release, is none other than “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
It was a record that defied categorization, blending elements of R&B, hip-hop, soul, and reggae into a sonic tapestry that was uniquely its own. But what sets “The Miseducation” apart and allows it to stand tall in the annals of musical history?
From the very first notes of the album, Lauryn Hill bared her soul in a way that was both raw and unapologetically authentic. Her lyrics were a mirror reflecting her own experiences, from the trials of love and relationships to the complexities of identity and self-discovery. In an era when many artists opted for artifice, Hill’s honesty was a breath of fresh air, and it continues to strike a chord with listeners of all ages. That authenticity was on full display, even despite her self-professed vocal ailments, during this show.
Moreover, at its core, “The Miseducation”, as was alluded to earlier, delves into universal themes that resonate with the human condition. Love, loss, redemption, and self-empowerment are all explored with a depth and vulnerability that transcend time and place. These themes are as relevant today as they were in 1998, making the album a timeless source of solace and inspiration. “The Miseducation” is not merely an album; it’s a manifesto of empowerment. Lauryn Hill’s words and melodies have served as anthems for those seeking to break free from societal constraints, find their voice, and assert their individuality. The album’s empowering message continues to resonate with listeners of all generations, and I’m just grateful that I had to chance to hear some of my favorite cuts from that album performed live.
After a brief intermission, the second half of the show took us even deeper into nostalgia. Lauryn Hill explained through song how The Fugees came to be and what they stood for, eventually introducing the affable Wyclef Jean, who had been quietly playing guitar in the background. Pras Michel completed the trio when he appeared from off stage for his verse. The chemistry was unmistakable, and they proved that they hadn’t lost any of the magic that made them a force to be reckoned with in 1996 when “The Score” exploded onto the global stage.
While we didn’t get the special guest appearances that The Forum audience enjoyed the following night, we were treated to all the hits that defined a good chunk of my youth. As the modulated, electronic bass line of “Ready Or Not” kicked in, I couldn’t resist the urge to sing along. It was a cathartic experience, one that transported me back to my youth. I sang out loud, and to my surprise, I wasn’t alone. The people around me, clearly from my age group, exchanged goofy thumbs-ups, acknowledging the power of music to rekindle memories.
Wyclef Jean’s boundless energy and enthusiasm were infectious, particularly during his solo performances of “911” and his heartfelt cover of “No Woman, No Cry.” However, it was when Pras took the stage to perform his ubiquitous hit “Ghetto Supastar” that a wave of bittersweet nostalgia washed over me. It served as a poignant reminder of the late Old Dirty Bastard’s absence, making me cherish even more the rare chance to witness the Fugees, as a united force, performing together.
Lauryn Hill’s 25th Anniversary Tour was more than just a concert; it was a nostalgic journey through time and talent. It was a celebration of the music that defined our youth and the artists who continue to inspire us. Lauryn Hill, Pras, and Wyclef Jean proved that their legacy is alive and well, and their music continues to resonate with audiences across generations. It was a night of personal catharsis, shared nostalgia, and the enduring power of music to transcend time and touch the soul.