Music Rewind welcomes Marica Slaughter to discuss The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill.
A fascinating conversation on how this album’s deep lyrics can have different meanings at different points in someone’s life. @MaricaSlaughter is the founder of raw5gear. A clothing line for recognizing female achievements in sports. Find it here: https://www.raw5gear.com/ and on Twitter @raw5gear.
Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Artist: Lauryn Hill Year: 1998
Transcript as follows: Participant #1:
Hello and welcome to Music Rewind, a podcast where we look to tell the stories behind our favorite albums. I'm your host, Steve Epley, and in each episode I will invite a guest to tell us about their favorite music album, how they discovered it, and what makes it special to them. Joining me today is a friend, neighbor and colleague, Marika Slaughter. Marika is accomplished director of design operations and her career has taken her through companies such as Coca Cola, Moxie and currently MailChimp. Great company, I Hear Good Things. She is also the founder of Raw Five Gear, a clothing line created to promote recognition and equality for women in sports. I am lucky enough to call Marika a neighbor where she lives down the road from me with her wife and kids while our sons are running between our houses. Welcome, Marika, and thank you for being on the show. Thanks for having me, Steve. So thankful to be here. And yes, lovely to be, you know, three houses down where the boys can run up and down the road. And also MailChimp is a wonderful place to work out here
or into it, whatever you want to label it now. Yeah. Well, Ricola stumped right into this. What is your favorite album and how did you discover it? My favorite album is The Misleducation of Lauren Hill.
And I discovered this, I would say through discovering Lauren Hill. I was introduced to Lauren Hill when the movie Sister Act Two came out in 1993. It was actually just on tonight. I was wondering if that was going to come up here because it was kind of reverse me. I used to love that movie. And then it was years later, it's like, oh, that was her. Yeah. I grew up listening to my parents raised me and they were always playing gospel music in the house and in the car and such. And so I've always been attracted to these soulful, powerful voices and lyrics. And that movie, I was 13 years old and it was such a good movie. Like I said, I watched it again tonight and I was singing along in the kitchen and everybody in the house was looking at me like I was crazy. I know the words, everything. But that sort of introduced me to Lauren Hill. And from there I just followed her career with the Fuji and such. And so when this came out, actually, it was the summer between my senior year of high school and going into my freshman year of college. And it's interesting to think back and think why I was attracted to this album in particular, because it's sort of this love album in my eyes. And so the many experiences of love and what our interpretation is of that and how we can redefine ourselves and as we do over the course of our life, that also changes the meaning of love or our experiences with love. So it's funny that at 18. I was attracted to that. And I was thinking, you and I were talking about this the other day, how it resonates with me differently today than it did at 18. But again, I believe that's because of the experiences from that point of point of view to where I am now. Yeah, the skits kind of throughout the album, they have the group of high school kids that are chatting with a teacher and it's all about love. And that reiterates that whole theme of the album as far as you've got the poetry of her lyrics and then in certain aspects, say, the naivete of the high school kids and how they're viewing what their expectations of love will be. And it's a good blending of the two. Oh, yeah, those are some really great skits. And even listening to those questions, it's like from an 18 year old or, however, like a kid's point of view and like, oh, love is some pretty funny things. Just their interpretation of what they thought love meant. Or at one point, he was like one kid was like, I didn't really love her, I just liked her. I just care for her a lot. Which is something a high school kid would say. Absolutely. Yeah. Those seemed very authentic. Yeah, for sure. I read up that they were actually very spontaneous. It was just like, given the teacher I think the guy is a poet and it's just like, put him in a classroom with some kids. Yeah. I have a note here. It was New Jersey poet and future politician Ross Baraka. Yeah. Playing the teacher. I don't know who that is, but he made it feel very authentic with them, though. Yeah, that was some good stuff. Yeah. I didn't really gravitate to this when it first came out, as it came out when I was actually in Basic Training 98, I was a bit out of the loop for a year or two as far as anything. Music and pop culture and weirdly, several of the albums that are going to be coming up on the list of interviews fall into that bracket that I didn't really discover until later on and where they were already old, they call. They don't listen to that anymore. That was two years ago. But this was a really good listen. And I'm glad you suggested this one because I'd heard the two or three main tracks that we'll still get radio airplay on. But there's a lot of good besides out there that I had never heard. I mentioned poetry earlier because that's what these songs really are. It's just really good poetry. Yes, she's such a good lyricist. And like I said, I've always loved the feeling you get from lyrics and the stories they tell. And it was if you follow her, she's always been so poetic and just had the cell phones to it. But everything from the delivery to the production of this just makes these words, and this poetry is so much more powerful. So I totally agree with that. Yeah. I went in with the assumption of this was just a first solo debut album from a member of the Fujis on its basic, which technically it is. But there's so much more to that when you get into the actual meaning of the lyrics, why she wrote certain songs, what they're about. And it's a very deep album. It reminded me of Fleetwood Max Rumors a lot. I don't know if you're familiar with Rumors, but it's one gigantic break up album and they are writing songs about each other in the band, and then they have to sing those songs on stage. So it's really, Oh, my great songs and a pretty brutal album when you're thinking of I'm singing lyrics of how I cheated on the other member of the band and I have to sing these songs since it hit. And then when you're going through this album, you've got certain tracks where, I didn't know she dated Wyclef. And there are some brutal lyrics in there. Yeah. And it's not just one song. There's several in there where she really takes it to them. I mean, with the way they start the album off right. Like, just that first line, which I think says a lot about her interpretation of just the situation with being an artist and being in that group at the time. It's funny how money changes situation miscommunication lead to complication don't put your equation I was on the humble you want everything I think that was within itself. Like, it's funny how money change the situation miscommunication leads to complications my missipation don't fit your equation like, just everything about how her breaking free from that group, probably the relationship, all the things we didn't see behind the scenes of who she should be as a female in the rap world, hip hop world. You might win some, but you just lost one point blank. Yeah. It makes me think about I think throughout our lifetime, too, you make decisions in hope of making the decisions. You never want to make one. At least from my point of view, that's for your personal gain. That's the sacrifice of others. But I think what I got from that song was something went down. It could have been a situation where it sort of sacrificed her artistry or her as being a part of that group or what have you, but it's just like, Yeah, okay, whatever you just did, you might win in this scenario, but you just lost a good thing. Yeah. Tracks two and three lost ones in X Factor, which obviously X Factor it's in the title on that one, too. But it's definitely a tale of, say, emancipation and the story of a toxic relationship where the lyrics of that was that when I tried to walk away you'd hurt yourself to make me stay that's as toxic as you can get
you read this as a story and you think, I'm just glad you got out. Yeah. And it's like, again, listen to it all. You can feel that turmoil. Like, it's almost this cyclical abuse of emotional like, I don't know, never read anything or they say anything about physical abuse, but it was certainly sounded like it was some emotional abuse there, definitely. And the battles that you made people experience in trying to get someone to love them, you change a lot of things about yourself to try to get someone to love you. It just doesn't work out. So, yeah, it's painful to hear. But it's interesting that all of this came together. I don't know if you read this, but she had this writer's block while she was on tour and then she became pregnant. And then all of this was the creative flow of all the feelings and emotions of stories that were put together that she got her most creativity in that moment, which is also a form of creating life in a different way of reinventing yourself for a different way of being loved. So one of my favorite tracks is Dying
when I was 18. It was just a five, because I love the production of it, but the words mean so much more now, especially having given birth to a child. It's like, yes, because a child will love you despite your flaws, no matter what. Right. And that song is a beautiful song where she's actually saying what they were telling her to do while she was pregnant. Think of your career. Don't make that mistake kind of thing. But then also the immense joy after she made her decisions and had had the child and the child's name Zion, I believe. Is that right? Yeah, with Bob Marley's son, if I think. Rohan Marley. Yeah, that was a good song. The album itself just starts out very deep. I think it's a very well produced album in that matter, because they lead up to, obviously, the breakout single duo. You cut from this very deep stuff to a song, kind of that you can dance, too. Yeah. And I like that. There's a good build up.
Yeah, I was thinking about that, too, in terms of how they decided to because the order in which they decided to pull the song to your point of, like, going hard and deep up front, and then you get into a BOP and then you get to songs that are final hour, which at one point I was like, I wonder why they had that so early in the album. But, yeah, I think the production was amazing on this. Some of the instruments I was thinking about the instruments from when we go back to X Factor, the pain that was felt. There was one break at the end that I think was this solo guitar or something, but it was like the strings and the chords in which they were playing it, you could feel the pain, right? It was like meant to express that pain was amazing on Zion. It's Santana playing guitar. Oh, yeah. He does excellent there. Yeah. Oh, Final Hour. Yeah. That's the biblical lot of biblical references to that one. That's where she starts getting into also her relationship with God. Yeah. And I have a note here. Amazing beats on this final hour. Yeah. Yeah.
That one was definitely more of like it was almost a pivoting point in the album. Right. I think she saw this as a mechanism of like or maybe she was just reinventing herself spiritually as well. And she's done some work with some gospel artists as well, which is I'm like this is probably why I love this, because of her seeding that sort of spirituality through words, lyrics and sound into this. But it was that point in the album which was like, so deep for me, especially talking about you can get the money, you can get the power, but keep your eye on the Final Hour. Whatever little accomplishments you claim victory on, it matters nothing in the face of final judgment. Right. Look at the story of like, again, the whole album is sort of telling this story, right? Like, you've done these things that might have sacrificed others and you might win some, but you just lost one. It's just like the battles of whether it be love or whatever that you gain over the course of the time. It's like, okay, you've done all these things to get your money and now you have power. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to do great things with them or are you going to continue to do bad things with them? And that kind of leads into what you said at the beginning, where different points of your life, you can hear these songs and they mean completely different things. Whereas those first couple of tracks are breakup tracks and they are right up to do up, where it's watch out. Men and women only want one thing. So that's very immediate emotional response things kind of I don't think she was in her early twenty s, I would assume, when she made this. Yeah, that makes sense. And then once certain adult things do happen in your life, having a kid and you're forced to grow up fast at some point in time, the rest of the album seems to be after that particular life event. Yeah. Right. And it's sort of this refreshing breath right. Like, again, that pivotal moment to where I went through all of this pain and then after Final Hour, I felt like it was just different emotional and spiritual being almost through these songs. She's not as angry as I'm looking at all the notes for all the tracks after Final Hour, there is a track superstar in there which is about gaining fame and what happens. But yeah, final hour is definitely that transition point of I want to say she's forgiven the people that have wronged her, but it just seems that she's taken after that song, things take on a less angry and more optimistic and forgiving nature. When I hurt so bad and I used to love him those are in the past. They're written as in the past. He's looking for the future. Yes. I wouldn't call this a concept album. It's almost more of a musical journal. It's kind of how she was feeling at the time. Yes. I don't think it was a concept album either. Yeah, concept album being written as a certain purpose to tell a story of something. Whereas this just happens to be very emotional. Yes, I'm still mad she didn't put out another one, but this one definitely was a journey of that reinventing yourself. Are there any other tracks on the backside that stand out to you, either musically or lyrically, emotionally? One that continues to I love every song on this album, by the way. Like, there's not one that I would skip and I listen to it straight through, but Everything Is Everything is another one that is one of my favorites. And then tell him so with Everything Is Everything, like we were saying, it's sort of this like she's now realized what's meant for you. And I think even in one of the earlier songs, she alluded to this. But it's like when you chase things, not everything you want is what you need, but what you need will happen in due time. And so by the time Everything is Everything, it's like what is meant to be will be. Right.
That's what I got from those lyrics as well on the track of your bad things happen and you don't want them to, but they do. But what you experience and how you overcome those obstacles, build your character and make you stronger. And that's obviously an insensitive way to look at many things in this world, but it's still true. Whereas if whatever you survive, you'll learn lessons, you'll approach things differently, and as you get older, you can look back on the bad things that other people did to you in the past. Well, they were stupid. I don't necessarily hold it against them at this point. Yeah, and I think, too, she figured out who she was through this process and I think we all have to do that, right? Like at 18, you think again, like when you're 18 and 20, what you think is love. You will do everything to get that because that's what you think it's supposed to be and that's what you want. And I think when you start to mature and get older, you figure out who you are, what you really like, what you really want. And so I think that played into it as well. She started to figure out who she was and that is the track. Ms Education of Lauren Hill. That's exactly what that song is about. Yeah. Becoming who you are and not who others want you to be.
You no longer try to chase this elusive being that you think will make other people happy. Right. You're like, this is who. This is me. Right. And just I love that evolution of the album. And then when it ends with sort of her like, Tell him I was just listening to Tell Him Again today. And to me, that really hits home because it's sort of like her love letter to God.
Yeah. I couldn't tell if it was being a prayer to God or kind of another love song to her child. Certain lyrics kind of could go either way. Yeah. Beautiful song. No one is perfect as long as they try to do right with love and it will be all right. That's the note I've got on that one. Yeah. As long as you try to do right with love. Right. That just takes me every time I hear one of the later songs and what she's talking about, it just takes me back and again, it brings full circle, this journey of, like, in the beginning, you weren't doing right by love. You're trying to fit into a mold of something you weren't. By the end, you figured out who you were and your definition of love and what you need from that great album be remiss if we didn't mention the excellent Four Seasons cover, can't Take My Eyes Off You. She sings beautifully in that song. And I'm a big Frankie Valley Four Seasons fan, so I do like that song. Yeah.
Every song, I would say, definitely. The hits are my favorites because they play them all the time. But there are so many good nuggets and good songs that weren't as popular. Right. But it's definitely a good album that you could listen to straight through. I agree with you there. And over and over again, I don't know why, but until the moment we talked about this, it just dawned on me of how much this album changes. Meaning every time. I say every time, but, like, based on the stages of which you're in your life. Right. I think probably five years from now, some of these songs will resonate differently. Right? Absolutely. And I don't know if I can think of another album that makes me feel that way. So I love it. I love the way that this journey of love and powerful poetry, as you put it, it's just genius. Like those first couple of tracks that are the break up tracks and just describing the toxic relationship. If I was post breakup in my early twenty s, that would probably be, yeah, that's it. She knows what she did. That sort of thing where now I listen to it and I think it's a good song. But these lyrics are a Whiny 20. But like you said, there's that transition point in the album where I guess the back half of the album is more mature. There's life events that have happened and now she's looking at things through a different lens. And that's with everyone's life as you get older, those things that you experienced and did in your 20s are minuscule. Agree. Now that you say that, I probably gravitated more towards tracks one through six when I was 20 because I had some serious
what was a good word, a way to put it. I thought I knew what love was. I would just leave it at that. I had some serious relationships that I probably shouldn't have had 18 that I thought were right for me that weren't.
But I certainly do think beyond Two Zion. I think the back half of the album is probably what I gravitate more towards now, for sure. Just one note we didn't really touch on every Ghetto, every City, but just the upbeat feel of that. And I think anyone that can resonate with anyone or what I got from it was, look at what you've accomplished, how far you've come, you started, where you started from. And it made me think about the memories of growing up as a young girl. Every ghetto, every city
in my note on it is that it's a love letter to her hometown and her upbringing. Because at this point she's a successful recording artist with at least the Fujis. Not solo yet, but in a movie star. She'd already been in TVs but still appreciating all the little things that she did as a child in, I think, New Jersey. And it makes you think about where you can I come from a very small town in the Midwest and it makes me think of all that, those little stupid things we did as kids. But they were fun and they're good memories. Yeah, such good memories. And I take it as like, again, you were built the way you were built for a reason, right. And you've gotten to it's sort of this, for me, anyway, it's like, look at where you are and never forget who you are and what got you there, sort of thing for me. Right. Because, again, I think her coming into this realization of who she really was and looking back on how she was raised, her hometown, all those things, that was a good track, for sure. So The Mis Education of Lauren Hill was your top one. What albums made your shortlist? Oh, man, yeah. I really had a hard one. I love music. I sing all the time. I'm a great shower singer. But my other two tracks that sort of came to mind when we talked were The Essential Kirk Franklin. And that was sort of like a mix of all the most popular Kirk Franklin songs and I love it so much. It is my go to that's gospel, right? Yes, it is gospel. I will weather every storm with that album. Jen will tell you, the boys know it. She knows that. I think it just takes me back to my roots of how I was raised and it's my go to to help me get through storms. And so even looking at like, okay, loving the Lauren Hill album, I probably also did rely on Kirk Franklin album to get me through those love scenarios. Right. That's my everyday go to for sure. And then Continuum by John Mayer. Jen and I discovered that I think we were living in London at the time, but it's a pretty good album. It was a close call between the three. Also good soulful, powerful lyrical albums. Right. John Mayer is a lot more talented than the bubblegum pop songs give him credit for. He's a wonderful blues guitarist. Some of his lyrics can get a bit campy and poppy at times, but it's his guitar skills that I enjoy. He's really good on it. Yeah, I've seen him play a little bit. We haven't got to see any of these artists in person, but yeah, I've seen some videos and play super talented. Well, he did a side project for a while called The John Mayer Trio where he partnered with Steve Jordan on drums and Peter Palladino on base. Two blues legends themselves played with Stevie Ravon and others and they did a small tour and had one live album and it's fantastic. They have covers of like Ray Charles in there and other things and I would recommend that to any. You might even be on my personal short list. Yeah. John Mayer Trio. Call Try. It's really good. Yeah, I love his voice again, so just powerful soulful on that. He does a slow blues version of Daughters, which I'm not a big fan of, the radio version that you always hear, which may even be on Continuum. I know. I don't know. On Try, say it's. Slow bluesy. It's really good. Yeah, I'll have to take that out for sure. Appreciate that. I'd like to thank you for your time today. It was truly a pleasure to sit and talk with you about the mis education of Lauren Hill. Please tell our listeners what you're working on and if they can find you anywhere or anything you want to talk about. Yeah, I know you mentioned this earlier, so I just want to go back to my apparel line, raw Five Gear. I am working on that right now. I actually originally started it, founded in 2013 and was able to relaunch last year during the Pandemic. And it's so near and dear to my heart with the mission of helping bring more recognition and respect to young girl and women athletes that we so deserve. As a former athlete myself, having played at Georgia State, I certainly understand the lack of equality that there is out there, but it's getting better and so excited to have seen. I actually watched with my boys and the other night I watched with my brothers, the WNBA Championship Pack Stadium, and there's so much momentum around this. Chicago won yesterday. Did they? Chicago sky one tonight, I think. Chicago, yeah. Cambridge. Parker brought it back home. This was my way of having my two passions of creative artistry as well as sports background come together and in hopes of it being my way of giving back and doing my part to help in this momentum that we have going here. The apparel line has just creative messaging on sweatshirts, t shirts, hats, those sort of things that people can purchase from my website, rawfivegear.com. But I'm also working on trying to evolve into how I can help middle school, high school, younger athlete programs, whether that be sponsorships, creative apparel for them as well. Portions of our proceeds to go back into programming that also helps young girl and women athletes. So check it out. Always open the feedback. And of course, follow me if you want to hear more about it and see the momentum. We'll put a link to your website in the show notes. Sweet. Send that out to our thousands and thousands of listeners out there. Steve, this is going to blow up. I'm putting it out there, putting it in the universe. I'm going to get to say I was one of your first guests, looking back. Oh, yeah. I used to record I'm sure you probably did this, too. Put the cassette tape in your songs. That's how I learned all the lyrics to songs, is I would play it, play it line by line, pause everyone. They play it again, rap with it. I would record off the radio. Yeah. You just got to hope that the DJ doesn't start talking at the end of the song. I just want to record the top ten or whatever so you can see what the top ones were. So you mentioned Sister At. I was a big fan of Sister Act Two. Sister Act One. I really like Sister Act Two. And when Napster was a thing, everyone downloaded just whatever's on top of their heads. And I actually downloaded His Eyes on the Sparrow, joyful, Joyful and Oh Happy Day. I mean, those three songs were fantastic from that movie. Amazing. It's like a guilty pleasure on my end. Those are the best. Yeah. Amazing songs. Those three songs. Either in the car because I've still got them on they're on here. I still got them on my phone. But also, if the movie is on TV, those three songs still give me goosebumps. Oh, yeah.
that's good singing. When they sing His Eyes On The Sparrow, it is beautiful.
She's got a beautiful voice. Oh, gosh, such a beautiful voice. And that one will make you cry. How powerful her delivery is with that song and heartfelt. It's just like, Oh, my gosh. And then, yeah, of course, that last performance is always my favorite. I missed it tonight. It's so 90s. Can you watch it, the guys coming in? Yeah. You're down with God? Yeah, you know me. And they're closed. They've got the overalls with one hanging and the colors, and it's so 90s. It's a nice little time capsule. They did date themselves there. Yeah, but that's funny you said that, because I was in the kitchen tonight. I was like everybody was like, Why are you singing right now? She never did another movie, did she? Never did anything. Even outside the singing. She acted well in that movie. She did, yeah. Going head to head with her mother and that storyline that she did. Good. I don't know what it was, but I think it was probably a song on the album that I lose. I can't imagine what the industry tries to make you become to sell records or to sell anything. Right. Especially in the 90s when it was rampant. I mean, you see what it did to Brittany and others. And from a female crush, those young girls. I mean yeah, it's horrendous, like you said. I try to tell her not to have a baby and all these things. I can't imagine what they went through. But something pushed her away. And it's so terrible because I do believe music save souls and her voice is God. And I'm like, she is not sharing that at all with the world. And there's so many out there. And people can hate me on this if they want, but people that can't sing, and it's all either Auto Tune or just corrected in the studio, and they're making millions and putting out record after record from some Swedish studio or something. And you got a woman like this that can just with no music at all, just belt it, and it's beautiful and gorgeous. Like I said, you're from God. And that woman could sing. Yeah. And the ones that are making it are the ones that are losing who they are and abiding by these false senses of themselves from record labels. And they'll do anything for that fame. That fame is a drug. But I think that's where a lot of them find themselves, too. Like you said, they go into ministry because it's like, yeah, just as Christ was a superstar, you stupid star. They'll hail you, then nail you no matter who you are. No, I love it. We'll have you on again once we get into multiple seasons. And we'll get Jen on here, too, eventually. I appreciate it. I love it. I love it. I love that you're doing this. Thanks for having me. Have fun. Thanks for being on. Thank you for listening to music. Rewind a podcast from the Sidereal Media Group. Until next time,
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