10. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
“This is a very sexist industry,” Lauryn Hill told Essence magazine in 1998. “They’ll never throw the ‘genius’ title to a sister.” Though already a star as co-leader of the Fugees, with Wyclef Jean, she was hungry to express her own vision. “[I wanted to] write songs that lyrically move me and have the integrity of reggae and the knock of hip-hop and the instrumentation of classic soul,” the singer said of her debut album.
She took control of the recording process, writing, producing, arranging, and helming sessions that included collaborators like pianist John Legend, still in college when he got the call to go out to New Jersey, where Hill was recording, and the pathfinding R&B artist D’Angelo. They shaped a sound that went from the money-hating banger “Lost Ones” to subtle, glorious, heartbreaking monuments such as “Ex-Factor” (reportedly about Wyclef Jean) and the swinging sermon “Doo Wop (That Thing).” For “I Used to Love Him,” Hill duetted with her hip-hop-soul forebear Mary J. Blige. Each song was driven by a clarity of vision and personal honesty that felt revelatory; in “To Zion,” she detailed her struggles as an ambitious professional and a new mom. Miseducation’s musical legacy is just as deep; at a time when pop was becoming increasingly slick and digitized in the go-go Nineties, here was an album that showed the commercial appeal of a rawer sound; “I wanna hear that thickness of sound,” Hill said. “You can’t get that from a computer, because a computer’s too perfect. But that human element, that’s what makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I love that.” - RollingStone.com