Happy Birthday, Miss Lauryn!

I am a huge fan of Lauryn Hill, and apparently that comes with some controversy. Like any great entertainer, Ms. Hill has found herself in deep water from time to time either because of an offhand comment regarding the race of her listeners, or you know, tax evasion. I truly believe it is a sign of the loyalty of a fanbase and the talent of an artist when we look past it all, though. (Not that I would ever stop listening to someone’s music because of tax evasion.) Ms. Hill has her fans full support, and I certainly hope that she knows that to be true.

I first heard Hill’s voice crooning to me over the airwaves of KUBE 93, Seattle’s hip-hop station. She sang “Killing Me Softly,” and man, she killed me softly.

I had no idea that “Killing Me Softly” was not a Fugees original until I saw the movie About a Boy in 2010, that’s the kind of Lauryn fan I am.

My brothers and I listened to The Fugees like it was our job when we were kids. A few months after this song had been bumpin’ out of our boomboxes, my cousin Nicole told me that her cool friend Melissa actually owned the album “The Score,” and it was RAP MUSIC, MY GOD. (My cousin was kind of a square.) Heck yes it was rap music, and it was beautiful, and Lauryn spit game as well as she sang, and I was in love with her.

Then came “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” to this day, my favorite album ever (sorry “No Strings Attached”). Every single song is incredible.

And ” To Zion” might be my favorite song on the album because, gah:

“But everybody told me to be smart/Look at your career they said/”Lauryn, baby use your head”/But instead I chose to use my heart.”

“I’ve never been in love like this before.” There’s just something about songs about children, you know?

Ms. Hill is more than a gorgeous voice, a slick flow, and a beautiful face. Ms. Hill, to girls like myself, represents strength, pride, and the reminder to always be true to yourself.

Yes, I gather all of that from her music.

I had a really rough year last year (and this year, and like every year because hello, I’m in my 20s). Last year on my birthday, I took myself to get a tattoo. Just me, my friend with the ink pen, and Ms. Hill in my heart.

Featured image via afropunk, Killing Me Softly image via vimeo, Miseducation image via wikipedia, Zion image via globalgrind, lyrics image via afropunk, my arm image via my real life.