The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut solo album by American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. It was released on August 25, 1998, by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a neo soul and R&B album with some songs based in hip hop soul and reggae. Its lyrics touch upon Hill’s pregnancy and the turmoil within her former group the Fugees, along with themes of love and God. The album’s title was inspired by the film and autobiographical novel The Education of Sonny Carson, and Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro.
After touring with the Fugees, Hill became involved in a romantic relationship with Jamaican entrepreneur Rohan Marley, and shortly after, became pregnant with their child. This pregnancy, as well as other circumstances in her life, inspired Hill to make a solo album. Recording sessions for the album took place from late 1997 to June 1998 mainly at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, as Hill collaborated with a group of musicians known as New Ark in writing and producing the songs.
The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 422,624 copies in its first week, which broke a record for first-week sales by a female artist. It was promoted with the release of the hit singles “Doo Wop (That Thing)“, “Ex-Factor“, and “Everything Is Everything“, while “Lost Ones” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” were released as promotional singles. To further promote the album, Hill made televised performances on Saturday Night Live and the Billboard Music Awards before embarking on a sold-out, worldwide concert tour.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was among the most acclaimed albums of 1998, as most critics praised Hill’s presentation of a woman’s view on life and love, along with her artistic range. At the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill earned 10 nominations, winning five awards, making Hill the first woman to receive that many nominations and awards in one night. The album’s success propelled Hill to international superstardom, and contributed to bringing hip hop and neo soul to the forefront of popular music. New Ark, however, felt Hill and her record label did not properly credit the group on the album; a lawsuit filed by the group was settled out of court in 2001.
Since its release, the album has been ranked in numerous best-album lists, with a number of critics regarding it as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the greatest albums of all time. Among its honors are inclusion in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, Harvard University‘s Loeb Music Library, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American history, and the Library of Congress‘ National Recording Registry. In 2021, the album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America, for estimated sales of 10 million copies in the US, making Hill the first female rapper to accomplish this feat. Worldwide, the album has sold over 20 million copies, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time, the best-selling album by a female rapper, and the best-selling neo-soul album of all time. It remains Hill’s only studio album.