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The Horizon

The Student News Site of Westmont College

The Horizon

The Student News Site of Westmont College

The Horizon

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Lauryn Hill’s 25th anniversary tour

Abigail Lingel

The Fugees were formed in 1990 in New Jersey and consist of members Wyclef Jean, Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill. The band used a blend of reggae, hip-hop, funk and R&B in their music, making them one of the most popular hip-hop groups of the 90s. The Fugees published their second studio album, “The Score,” in 1996, selling more than eight million copies.  

Two years later, Lauryn Hill released her solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” recognized as groundbreaking, furthering the group’s shift into rap thematically and musically. 

If you’ve ever listened to “Killing Me Softly” or “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” you are familiar with Lauryn Hill and the Fugees. At the end of my freshman year, I discovered the Fugees’ hit song “Fu-Gee-La” from “The Score” and from there, Ms. Hill’s “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” and I haven’t stopped listening since. “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is possibly my most played CD of all time, and I’ve gone as far as to do a semester-long project studying the themes and critical reception of the album. On Nov. 4, 25 years after the release of the album, I had the chance to see Lauryn Hill and the Fugees perform in Los Angeles. 

I arrived at the Crypto Arena around 7:30 p.m., and to my surprise, my tickets were mysteriously upgraded from the nosebleeds to the first section above the floor. The unity Ms. Hill’s album created amongst the different generations was evident when, before her performance, DJ Reborn called out for each generation to shout loud and proud. Everyone was there, from those born in the 2000s to the 60s and beyond. DJ Reborn occupied the stage for two hours until Lauryn Hill finally graced the stage a bit after 9:30 p.m.. She wore a beautiful black tuxedo with a billowing white lace skirt coming out from it. 

Lauryn’s performances seemed oddly sped up and over-heightened by air horns and effects until she reached her song “To Zion.” This piece, written about Lauryn’s first son Zion, whom she was pregnant with when recording “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” mellowed the mood and reminded me I was listening to the album in the flesh. “Nothing Even Matters” and “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” followed, lit with simple rainbow orbs in an otherwise dark arena. I was tempted to close my eyes and just listen to Hill’s voice singing over the incredible 38-piece band. 

A central theme of the concert was that of family, both given and chosen. Hill brought out her mother, whose birthday had just passed, and had her children accompany her to sing “Happy Birthday.” Hill emphasized that the album would not exist without her mother and thanked her for helping take care of her family all those years she was touring. It brought tears to every eye in the arena. Later in the show, Hill’s son Joshua Marley performed. 

The second half of the show, featuring the Fugees, felt like a family reunion. It was a concert of its own, bringing the show past midnight. Fugees seemed to boost the tired crowd’s energy, performing hits such as “Vocab,” “Zealots,” and “Ready or Not.” You could tell the three were having fun mixing things up on stage. Their final song, “Fu-Gee-La,” was performed three times in various ways. By the end of the show, I was exhausted. Many have taken issue with Hill’s statement about her audience being lucky she came on stage, whether late or not. However, having heard this statement live, it didn’t detract from my experience. Though many artists arrive late, Hill is taking extra heat. She has faced criticism her whole career that many artists with the worst attitudes don’t receive. 

I had a wonderful experience seeing Lauryn Hill and the Fugees. I can’t stop thinking about how this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially since “The Score” and “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” were released before I was born. The energy and messages given by both albums mean so much to me. I am grateful to have gotten the chance to hear them live. My night ended with a bootleg shirt bought outside the arena and a long drive home. The 25th anniversary tour continues.

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