Social Components' impact On Human
While there are biological factors that create a genetic basis for the development of homo sapiens, social influences create the human being. Humanity is defined by non-genetic information, including interactions with others and introspection, that influence and shape an individual's life and behaviors (Ehrlich) that make them human. These social influences come from interactions within a community, and individuality that manifests through self-evaluation in relation to a community. A community is defined by a group of individuals that are connected by certain attributes. Those who are part of a community are able to connect and influence others who associate with that same community. Individuality is defined by one's ability to distinguish themselves from their community. A person's ability to think, reflect, and act based on their own experiences gives someone individuality.
Music is a form of expression that is affected by social influences and affects social influences. It is not coincidental that every human culture has managed to develop some form of music. Music is able to create a sense of community, while is also a way to express one's individuality. Music is a means to socially, emotionally, and culturally connect, which creates, and strengthens, communities. One's individuality can also be expressed through lyrics, and music styles that are unique to the individual. Through music people are able to express universal themes of what it means to be human. An example of this is the album, the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Released in August 1998, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a hip-hop, neo-soul, R&B record, created by music artist Lauryn Hill. This album was Hill's solo debut record, after breaking up with her former hip-hop group, the Fugees. The album delves in Hill's life experiences, and revelations since splitting from the Fugees, and becoming a solo artist. The album debuted at number one on Billboard, selling over 400,000 thousand copies within its first week, and quickly became a critically claimed album. The album can be used to define what it means to be human because it is able to encapsulate the dynamic qualities of being a human. In the creation process, and the in the actual album Hill is able to create songs, and present experiences that others are able to connect and associate with, while maintaining the individuality that comes with sharing her own story.
The songs in the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill create a sense of community among those who have listened to the album. Throughout the album there are themes that resonate with people, with each theme presented in the album reflected in someone else's life. In the song "To Zion," she talks about the uncertainty that comes with being pregnancy with her first child, and the joy of motherhood. The song speaks to what many women go through when becoming pregnant, and the joy that many women experience when their child is finally born. In the lyrics:
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
She expresses the discrimination women face when they become pregnant. There is this idea of having a child will affect their work, and success of women in the workforce. Women are pressured have to make the decision of whether they should give up on their career ambitions for the sake of a child. If the woman does not, they have to juggle motherhood, and their careers at the expense of a child. Studies have shown that mothers that are employed benefit the child in the long-term (Hoffman), yet many women are forced to deal with societal pressures that come with having a child. The song "Ex-Factor" was a song for her former bandmate, Wyclef Jean, but the sentiments of the songs are easily applicable to others' experiences of heartbreak, and disappointment in a loved one. Some of her songs also show she sees connectedness of different communities. The song "Every Ghetto, Every City" talks about growing up in the city through the lens of her younger self. The chorus says,
"Every ghetto, every city/
And suburban place I been/
Make me recall my days, in the New Jerusalem"
As Hill travels, the different cities remind her of where she grew up, in New Jersey, she finds similarities in the different urban communities across America. Songs like "Nothing Even Matters" and "When It Hurts So Bad," gives different perspectives to being in love. The first being about the positive feelings that come with romantic relationships, the latter expressing the struggle of being in a relationship. "Everything Is Everything" is about the struggle of people in America, who are not given a seat at the table because of their circumstances. Hill's lyrics
"Who made these rules? (Who made these rules?)/
We're so confused (We're so confused)/
Easily led astray"
Speak to disenfranchised communities, including impoverished people, women, people of color, and so on. America has institutions that are biased against those who are not cis-gendered, White, and male. The song acknowledges the disenfranchised, while encouraging them to strive for better. There is also community that is created when listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Those with similar experiences to Hill are able to enjoy the album and connect with others who have listened and connected to the album. People are able to relate to each other through the album. Those who have not had the same experiences are given insight in to the lives of Hill, and those that can relate to Hill. Memories that associated with the album also create a point of connection between people. Artist today still allude to the album's content, in order to connect with their audiences. There is a sense of community among those who listen to the album. The large amount of people acknowledge that they are connect to Hill's work, and connection is critical to creating, and maintaining a community.
Even with the song messages resonating to millions, Lauryn Hill's album is extremely personal to herself, and what is going on in her life. Each song was created based on what was going on in her life. It feeds into the individuality aspect of being human. With the creation of this album she was able to distinguish herself as not only an artist, but and a person, with her own ideas, and perspective. Each song is a reflection of Lauryn Hill's thoughts, ideas, hopes and fears. Through her music she is able to navigate her own introspective journey The song "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" is about Lauryn Hill coming into her own, especially after splitting up with her former group. Hill says, "[The song] has a lot to do with finding out about your own aspirations and your own dreams, and not those dreams and those aspirations that some might have for you. It's a song about movement and growth and inspiration." (Manufacturing Intellect). In the lyrics
"But deep in my heart, the answer it was in me/
And I made up my mind to define my own destiny"
Through her personal turmoil, Hill came to the conclusion that her actions, and the way she sees life is what truly defines her destiny. An aspect to individuality the ability to fare one's own morals and values in the face what society expects a person to be. The hip-hop industry is male dominated, where songs with braggadocious lyrics sell. The few women who are able to make a career out of rap tended to have hit songs with hypersexual lyrics, and outfits to match. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was not only a rap album by a woman, its lyrics were religious, thought provoking, and offered something different to what is popular in hip-hop. Her willingness to risk not selling, for the sake of her art, highlights her individuality. The song "Lost Ones" is a song specifically directed to her former bandmate, Wyclef Jean. She was pregnant with her first son, when the song "To Zion" was created. It was a song about her love for her child and including the name of her son in the song shows that the song is personal to her life. The song "Final Hour" is about the superficiality of people. "Superstar" expresses Hill's worries with the direction of hip-hop, as it becomes less about expression, and more about gaining fame and recognition. In the lyrics
"Now tell me your philosophy/
On exactly what an artist should be/
Should they be someone with prosperity/
And no concept of reality?"
She is not only taking jabs at her former bandmate, she is critiquing rappers who she feels have no substance. This song was created based on Hill's experience in the music industry. Years after the releasee of this record Lauryn explains in a published letter that she believed the music industry was a toxic environment, that affected her ability to create quality music. She fears that fame leads to the consequences of losing authenticity, passion, and heart that comes with making hip-hop music.Works Cited
Checkoway, Laura. "Inside 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'." Rolling Stone
Crenshaw, Kimberly. "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color." Stanford Law Review
Ehrlich, Paul R. Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect. Penguin
Hoffman, Lois Wladis. The Effects of the Mother's Employment on the Family and the Child, University of Wisconsin-Madison General Library System
La Marr Jurelle, Bruce. "The People Inside My Head, Too": Madness, Black Womanhood, and the Radical Performance of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill, Chung King Studios, New York
Manufacturing Intellect. "[FULL HD] Lauryn Hill Interview (2000)." YouTube
"The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill." Genius