The year was 1998. Few knew it at the time, but music as a whole was witness to the birth of a once-in-a-lifetime piece of artistry and significance that reverberates decades on. Yes, it was 17 years ago this week that Lauryn Hill released the ground-breaking, culture-shifting, generation-defining, and history-making The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Since then, the 14 track neo-soul opus has been characterized as a ‘stunning musical document,’ a ‘vocal tour de force,’ and ranks as one of the top albums of all time for fans’ and critics’ alike. That praise is due in large part to a mixture of sound and substance pushing musical boundaries with each enduring track, but it’s today’s throwback that rises above; the intensely human “To Zion.”
The personal account of how the impending birth of her first son Zion would cause a spiritual change in her, this beautifully crafted testament to family is not only affecting prose but a moving choral composition as well. An electric guitar, borrowing Jose Feliciano’s riff from “And the Feelings Good,” gently sets the mood before the modest snares come through. It’s then that Ms. Hill’s rich, impassioned vocals take over and command the track. You start to sense something big, something greater than the music is building with each passing lyric until the final euphonic crescendo. It’s a fascinating experience not only for the ears, but for the entire conscience.
This may be cliche, but press play and get yourself lifted with a spin: