The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Tops Apple Music’s 100 Greatest Albums of All Time

Ms. Lauryn Hill (PHOTO: Irma Mchedlishvili)

Apple Music has crowned Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 1998 opus, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, as the best album ever recorded.

The reveal of Apple Music’s Top Ten Best Albums ever caps off the streaming giant’s ten-day countdown celebration of the best bodies of work since the beginning of recorded music, crafted by Apple Music’s team of music experts alongside a select group of artists, including Pharrell Williams, Honey Dijon, and Nia Archives, and various songwriters, producers, and industry professionals. Each day starting on May 13, Apple revealed 10 of the albums counting down from 100 to 1.

Rather than make this a quantitative report based on sales and streaming numbers, Apple’s experts decided to eliminate that factor and instead craft an editorial list based on lasting impact and influence, what they describe as “a love letter to the records that have shaped the world music lovers live and listen in.”

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Tops Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums of All Time
Apple Music’s Ebro Darden and Nadeska Alexis with Ms. Lauryn Hill. Hill poses with her 100 Best Albums award, which is made of blasted anodized aluminum, sourced entirely from recycled Apple products. (PHOTO: Irma Mchedlishvili)

“I appreciate the acknowledgment, I really do, but I’d be remiss not to also acknowledge all of the music and artists who informed and inspired me,” Ms. Lauryn Hill said in reaction to being honored with the number-one album in recording history. “The leaders of community and movements that sparked me, the social dynamics and music scenes, both older and current at the time that intrigued and inspired me to contribute. The educators, both literal and not so literal, and the experiences that shaped me. My parents, my family, my friends, my community, where I come from, who I come from… I wanted that same flame that inspired me to remain, I couldn’t bear to see it lost.”

“I made what I wanted to see and hear exist in the world at the time. I’m grateful that it connected and continues to connect with so many people. Thank you to EVERYONE who was a part of it, to EVERYONE who supported its release and movement around the world, even those who were reluctant at first, because it unleashed an indomitable creative will which again just exemplifies how much love was invested in me,” Hill continued.

“Thank you tons to every careful listener, thank you to every casual listener, and love to all the artists and those who support them fighting the good, courageous, and noble fight of presenting the art you love to a world that desperately needs it.”

As for the rest of the top ten, fans will surely be delighted by (and debating about) entries from Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean, Prince, and Michael Jackson topping the list as well.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Tops Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums of All Time

Take a look at Apple Music’s full top ten Best Albums below:

“For a Black woman to land that spot, is already pretty incredible to me,” says Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis. “I think it’s an album that’s just had an incredible impact.”

“At the moment that it landed in music – the year is 1998, so around that time we’re listening to DMX, Jay-Z was dropping, there were a lot of great albums out. But there was nothing like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and I don’t think there’s been anything like it since then,” she explains. “The way she’s rapping and singing and harmonizing, the way she’s blending so many different types of Black music. All the records that she grew up listening to in her mom’s house, all of those vinyls, you just hear so many different influences on that album, and I don’t think there’s been another body of work like it.”

On top of Hill’s unique musicality and mix of rapping and singing, the artist broached several topics that simply were not common fare for female emcees at the time.

“It also made a big statement when it landed, the things she was talking about; discussions about things like beauty standards for Black women. Like seeing this beautiful dark-skinned Black woman with dreadlocks on these mainstream magazines, that was never a thing [before],” Alexis says. “The conversations around ‘To Zion,’ being able to choose that you can have a career and be a mom. She just opened up a lot of discourse that was important.”

Though the team ultimately came up with a formidable top ten, the task for Apple Music’s team of experts was – understandably – a daunting one.

“It was definitely a challenge. I think trying to determine the 100 best albums in music is a monumental task, but luckily for us, this started with an internal team vote,” Alexis says. “What was great about that is that we were tasked with choosing what we felt were our 25 best albums, because 100 would’ve just been, I think, mind-boggling. So that at least narrowed the focus down, but it did take me some time.”

“You have to be careful not to choose what necessarily is your favorite album or [which one] your biggest memories are tied to, but what is actually the best? What’s the one that encapsulates what this artist has contributed?”

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Tops Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums of All Time

As for why it was important to leave the numbers and chart positions out of the larger equation, Alexis says it’s a matter of returning to the basics of what music means to us all.

“We live in a moment in music where there are so many artists releasing music that it can be a little bit overwhelming,” she says. “There are new singles all the time, attention spans are shorter. So, it felt really important as a streaming service to remind our listeners how much we really value a full and complete body of work; something that you listen to from start to finish and you can appreciate, rather than just cherry-picking a couple of singles. I think bringing the focus back to the album was very important.”

For a full breakdown of each selection on Apple Music’s comprehensive list of the 100 Best Albums, listen HERE.

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