This may surprise you to know, but from the ages of 11 to 18, I was a hip hop dancer. Long before I ever listened to jazz or tried my hand at singing it myself, I was listening to hip hop, r&b, and rap. Now that I’m older, I can see how closely related these genres are to the kind of music I make.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill came out in 1998 when I was 10. When I took my first hip hop class, my teacher would play Doo-Wop (That Thing) at the beginning of each class while we warmed up. A few years later I bought my own copy and I devoured every note and lyric the way a pre-teen with a new obsession does, listening with my nose in the liner notes.
Years later, even though I haven’t listened to it in years, I can still sing along with every track, including the spoken interlude recordings of a teacher having a discussion with a classroom of students about their ideas on love. I still find these interludes enchanting.
I believe that my early dance education helped me later in life when it comes to understanding rhythm in jazz. I also believe that my early obsession with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill shaped my interests in love themes. Lauryn Hill’s songs on this album are some of the most passionate, heartfelt, heartbreaking songs I’ve ever heard.
The video below is an incredible slow jam featuring d’Angelo called Nothing Even Matters.
This has been in my headphones // 04, a blog feature where I talk about albums that have influenced me or are currently influencing me. You can also check out the last post in this series, in my headphones: the audience with betty carter // 03.