1. Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
I remember Lauryn was lauded as the “talented” member of the Fugees and was always being asked when she was going to work on a solo album by the media back in the day. And then it came and, boy, did it come. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released in 1998 (I wasn’t even consciously thinking of its ten year anniversary when putting this list together or did I know Rolling Stone had recently commemorated it) and garnered her ten Grammy nominations and five wins. This was the most nominations for a solo female artist at the time. Number 1, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” kicked it all off.
This was one of those videos that I liked watching over and over and never got tired of. Great sing-a-long lyrics with a positive message and make-you-think content that were added bonuses. The concept itself was original with the side-by-side screens comparing the old school with the new. Lauryn looked impeccable. And she showcased both her rapping and singing skills.
I remember reading, and I’m paraphrasing here, Foxy Brown commenting that everyone had a gimmick and that she and Lil’ Kim had their thing and Lauryn had the positive thing going, but that it was all still conscious image-making. I don’t fully agree as there’s something that rang true about Ms. Hill’s work and, I think, it’s for that reason, that it touched so many people.
She had such potential and has already achieved so much of it. It was refreshing, in a genre were women’s perspectives are limited, that this was an alternative point-of-view. It’s not that the Foxy Browns and the Lil’ Kims shouldn’t be there, it’s that there should be more of a spectrum. Seemed to be more of selection in the earlier days with Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, etc. I’ll stop proselytizing now, but I think of Lauryn Hill as the great hip hop hope. I know that’s a lot of pressure and maybe she’s already buckled under it, but I hope we get more glimpses of her greatness or at least some very close attempts in the not too distant future.