Lauryn Hill’s masterpiece, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, which was released in August 1998, has joined a rare club.
One of the greatest albums of all time has reached a new milestone.
Lauryn Hill’s masterpiece, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, has officially gone diamond. This means the album, which was released on August 25th, 1998, has sold more than 10 million units since its release 22 years ago.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) revealed the news on Tuesday night. What’s particularly interesting with this album is the trajectory: it took only three years for The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill to sell eight million units. (It was certified 8x platinum on December 17, 2001.) And then it took almost 20 years to move an additional 2 million units for the album to go diamond.
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill is the first album to be certified diamond since Whitney Houston’s Whitney in October 2020. (Houston is the only Black woman to have three albums go diamond; Her self-titled 1985 debut and The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992 also went diamond.)
Hill joins a pretty exclusive club: there have only been 126 albums to go diamond; Only 17 female artists or bands led by a woman have gone diamond. Hill is only the fourth black woman act to go diamond, following Whitney, TLC (CrazySexyCool), and Mariah Carey (Music Box and Daydream.) And only the 23rd rap or R&B album to go diamond. She joins iconic artists like 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Stevie Wonder, Usher, and more.
Since its release, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has been one of the most acclaimed albums of all time. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling more than 422,000 sales in its first week. Hill’s classic debut — which came on the heels of The Fugees’ blockbuster The Score — garnered 10 Grammy nominations; Hill would win five statues, including awards for Album of the Year, Best R&B Album, and Best New Album.
After the success of the album, Hill went into the shadows. Other than her divisive MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 album in 2002, Hill would not release an official follow-up and, other than some spot appearances, would focus on raising her family. Throughout the years controversy swirled around Hill — who now goes by Ms. Hill. She was sued over songwriting credits on the album; collaborators that worked on Miseducation griped about not getting the credit they deserved; she served a three-month prison sentence in 2013 for tax evasion; she picked up a rep for being late to her concert appearances; and she has been criticized by ex-band members for her management style.
In a recent episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums podcast, Hill, via email, spoke about why she never released a follow-up to her classic debut. (Rolling Stone ranked The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 10th on their greatest albums list of all time.)
“The wild thing is no one from my label has ever called me and asked how can we help you make another album… Ever. Did I say ever? Ever! With Miseducation, there was no precedent. I was, for the most part, free to explore, experiment and express. After the Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations and saboteurs everywhere.”
She also seemed to mention the controversy around the album and credit, saying:
“People had included me in their own narratives of their successes… as it pertained to my album. And if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy.”
A couple of years ago, for the 20 year anniversary of the album, we spoke to a number of people
who made the album. Stephanie Gayle,
Senior Director, Marketing, at Columbia Records at the time, told us:
“Lauryn was very particular about every aspect of her project. Whether it was the music, the artwork, her styling, her makeup. She was laying out the vision that we all needed to grasp and expand on. It was important that everyone on the team had the same energy that she had, because she was manifesting a new perception of young people of color and the love they were carrying around. “
Correction: An original version of this article left out Mariah Carey as a Black female artist that went diamond.