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Doo Wop

Doo Wop


by Lauryn Hill


The name "Doo Wop" was a somewhat random choice, says Vada Nobles (credited as a co-producer on "Lost Ones"). "There was a box set that said "doo wop" sitting on the floor — the title for her single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" came off that box," he told Rolling Stone. Of course, the whole idea of "doo wop" is a shout-out to Motown-style harmonies that clearly inspired the song's Music.

The title of the album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, came from a much more specific inspiration. Hill took the name from a well-known book by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro. Published in 1933, the book was ahead of its time in advancing a critique of the American education system from the African American perspective. Woodson claimed that, for those blacks who were able to access it, education was so oriented towards a society of white supremacy that it often led to internalized racism—essentially, it taught black people to have demeaning views of themselves and other black people. Without advocating for segregation in education (he didn't need to—education was still legally segregated in most places), he argued that African Americans should be developing their own education systems that prioritized teaching about African-American culture and traditions and advocated black empowerment. Hill thus used the title of her album partially as a shout-out to a many-decades-long history of black power activism.

Another source of inspiration for the album title was the 1972 autobiography The Education of Sonny Carson and its 1974 film adaptation. The book and film both tell the story of an African American man who decides to change his life after joining a gang and spending time in prison. Although both versions were released before Hill was even born, she has sampled dialogue from the film in her music. The message that a young African American has control over his own life and choices, despite his upbringing and prominent social convention, was one that Hill took to heart and has promoted in her music and her life.

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