by Lauryn Hill
Touré wrote, "Lauryn is the sort of young woman whom the old women smile at lovingly, their eyes saying, 'With people like you around, this generation, and your music, might just be all right, after all.'"
The adulation of Hill's persona of strength, beauty, and accomplishment was sometimes over the top, though: "Hill is an anomaly -- the elegantly beautiful, musically gifted class brain, the stern voice over your shoulder telling you to put those booty shorts and Bee Gees samples down, you low-expectations-having-mutha*****. She's almost forbiddingly perfect, but so thanks-to-god about it that it's impossible to begrudge her genetically engineered superiority over your press-on nails self." (Sia Michel, for the Village Voice)
Of course, the exuberant praise for Ms. Hill came and went with her album's popularity, waning quite dramatically in the wake of her disappointing follow-up album, MTV Unplugged 2.0: Lauryn Hill (2002). In the early 2000s, she was also offered many acting roles by Hollywood big-wigs, including a spot in Charlie's Angels (ceded to Lucy Liu for personal reasons) and the starring role in the film version of Tony Morrison's Beloved (given up when Hill got pregnant).
According to Vada Nobles, who worked on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it doesn't really matter what other people think: "She ain't the type of woman that you gonna box in. She's Ms. Hill, that's who she is. And there's nothing wrong with that. She wants to be called Ms. Hill, fine. Maybe she feels that society has disrespected her, maybe she feels like you're not entitled to call me Lauryn, you don't know me and don't pretend like you know me."
Lauryn Hill walked away from popularity with her head held high, and people were disappointed that she never "came back." Still, her mark on the music of the last two decades is indelible. According to John Legend, who played on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as an unknown pianist, "Lauryn had that blend of toughness and soulfulness, melody and swagger. She did it better than anybody still has done it. People are still trying to capture that moment."