Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Lauryn Hill

  • The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill [Ruffhouse, 1998] ***
  • MTV Unplugged 2.0 [Columbia, 2002] D-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill [Ruffhouse, 1998]
P.C. record of the year--songs soft, singing ordinary, rapping skilled, rhymes up and down, skits de trop, production subtle and terrific ("Lost Ones," "Superstar"). ***

MTV Unplugged 2.0 [Columbia, 2002]
Probably not the worst album ever released by an artist of substance--there are all those Elvis soundtracks. But in the running. Full-length double-CD of wordy strophic strolls that often last six, seven, eight minutes, accompanied solely by a solo guitar Hill can barely strum (the first finger-picked figure occurs on track 10, where it repeats dozens upon dozens of times, arghh). Unlike Hill herself, who during one of many spoken-word breaks tells the adoring multitude that her singing voice has been roughed up by a late night (but not how weak it is when she gets her eight hours), the melodies do not assert themselves. Inspirational Patter: "Every single one of these songs is about me first." Makes them realer, aight? D-