1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains one of the most critically-acclaimed and commercially successful albums of all time – and fans of Lauryn Hill have been waiting over two decades for a follow-up. The notoriously reclusive Lauryn, 45, shared insight into why she has yet to record her second studio album on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums podcast, exclusively available on Amazon Music. In an email interview, the Fugees singer chalked the silence up to the lack of “appreciation” from her label, and the toll recording took on her family. “The wild thing is that no one from my label has ever called me and asked how can we help you make another album– EVER…EVER. Did I say ever? Ever!”
“With The Miseducation, there was no precedent. I was, for the most part, free to explore, experiment, and express. After The Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations, and saboteurs EVERYWHERE. People had included me in their own narratives of THEIR successes as it pertained to my album, and if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy. Artist suppression is definitely a thing. I won’t go too much into it here, but where there should have been overwhelming support, there wasn’t any.”
Lauryn also said she was reluctant to put her family through the process of recording another album. “I create at the speed and flow of my inspiration, which doesn’t always work in a traditional system. I have always had to custom build what I’ve needed in order to get things done. The lack of respect and willingness to understand what that is, or what I need to be productive and healthy, doesn’t really sit well with me,” she said. “The warp speed that I had to move at, in order to defy the norm, put me and my family under a hyper-accelerated, hyper-tense, and, unfortunately, an underappreciated pace. I sacrificed the quality of my life to help people experience something that should have been unreachable before then.
“When I saw people struggle to appreciate what that took, I had to pull back and make sure I and my family were safe and good. I am still doing that. I continue to tour and share with audiences all over the world, but I also full-time work on the trauma, stifling, and stunting that came with all of that, and how my family and I were affected.”
In the 22 years since Miseducation, Lauryn has released a trickle of new music, including a handful of non-album singles and a live album: MTV Unplugged 2.0, taken from her 2002 performance of the same name. The album, which contained new music from Lauryn, received poor reviews. Internet music commentator Todd In The Shadows dissected the performance and the context around it. While he extended sympathy to Lauryn and what she was going through at the time, he described MTV Unplugged 2.0 as full of “unfinished, unreleasable songs with no hooks that all sound the same.” Lauryn hasn’t put out a major project since.
While looking back on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’s legacy, the former Fugee singer said, she does hear things on the record “that could have been done differently but the LOVE in the album, the passion, it’s intention is to me, undeniable. I think my intention was simply to make something that made my foremothers and forefathers in music and social and political struggle know that someone received what they’d sacrificed to give us, and to let my peers know that we could walk in that truth, proudly and confidently. At that time, I felt like it was a duty or responsibility to do so. … I challenged the norm and introduced a new standard. I believe the Miseducation did that, and I believe I still do this—defy convention when the convention is questionable.”