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Lauryn Hill’s Best Verses

In the absence of any new Lauryn Hill songs, I got to thinking about what makes me want something new from her. I came to the conclusion that it’s the fact that her old things were so multifaceted. In my opinion, many female mc’s haven’t come close to the depth of Lauryn Hill’s verses. Here are the 3 verses that I think were the best Lauryn Hill verses of all time (so far). These are not necessarily her best songs. This article contains my opinions.

#3 Guantanamera (Album: The Carnival)

Although it’s from the Wyclef album, this verse is, in my opinion, one of the best representations of Lauryn’s storytelling skills. This verse tells the story of a woman who gets what she wants from the world and plays by her own rules. She says:

She was a rose in Spanish Harlem

Mamacita, forgive me

Made bets at a faster rate than she fornicates

Pure traits of genius,

Goddess of the Black Venus

The crabs are mad because they can’t come between us

to no selex ion, soft complex ion

Lexington’s lexicon, parents came from Cuba, partly Mexican,

pure candy, dimes fell at his feet

He liked Movado, and he rocked his hips like Delgado

And broke ni**s from Grounds to Apollo

and something else, she took her act and sent it to Dim Sum

And I waited patiently while the businessmen came

Calling late on purpose made even politicians nervous

And made plans to infiltrate the street secret service

This sweet flower, fertility was her power

Sweet character, Venus Flytrap primadonna

What will it be, she returned money to money

Here, Hill’s use of cadence (selection vs. selection), imagery (he shook his hips like Delgado), and puns (Dim-Sum…businessmen are coming) is what makes this verse so special. This one is self-explanatory, so let’s move on.

#2 ‘Final Hour’ (Verse 2)

In the second verse of ‘Final Hour’, Lauryn gives us some insight into her goals for her music. If we pay attention we glimpse her first aspirations. She says:

I’m about to shift the focus from the richest to the poorest

I wrote this play to reverse hypnosis

the one that is closest

to the line will win

you will fall trying to play

While my team wins the pennant

i’m about to be on it

for a minute

So run for the senate

Make a slum lord the tenant

Give your money to children to spend

and then modify it

Every law that ever prevented

Our survival since our arrival

documented in the bible

Like Moses and Aaron

Things are going to change, it is evident

And everything transparent will be seen through

Let God redeem you

keep your deen true

You can also get green.

Be careful what you cling to

Watch how a queen does it

And I remain calm reading Psalm 73

Because with everything that is happening I have The Word in my palm

The entire Final Hour song is obviously about “the last days.” That’s not what makes it one of Lauryn Hill’s best songs or verses. This is one of Lauryn’s best verses because it encourages us to examine our lives with a view to having to respond to a Higher Power later, something rarely seen in hip hop. Here Lauryn seeks to enlighten the just, whether they are poor or not. She wants to ‘shift the focus from the richer to the poorer’, but then she says ‘you can get green too… careful what you cling to’. She also seeks to ‘reverse the hypnosis’ that music undoubtedly has on people by making her music meaningful enough to wake people up.

His reference to Psalm 73 is particularly interesting because that scripture talks about shunning worldly things in favor of a closer walk with God. This is what he means when he says “you’re going to fall for it” and claims to have “The Word” in the palm of his hand. Also, Lauryn’s declaration that she will run for the Senate is particularly revealing. She makes me wonder if she still has political aspirations.

#1 ‘Ready or Not’ (Remix)

Now for the best Lauryn Hill verse of all time: Hill’s verse on Ready or Not Remix. Goes:

If I could change the times, make beats, raise the babies

Give rage to all the pigs

Send biting n*as to Hades

fabric ladies

Chase the rainbow, find the pot

Release the offender a third time once he learns how to do Selaat

Lose the fame, take the money

Play boys, like they did to me

Find a man with a plan

Slap a chicken if it acts funny

Break the bank, own tank

Keep niggas from acting bad

Take control, hand out Rovers for free

Teaching a man to find Jehovah

Own the shops, own the tours

Watch the disco pimps and whores

Make love, stop wars

Cop the land, like the Moors

Make last first

Make the god respect the earth

Change the murder rate to the birth rate!

This is almost like Lauryn Hill’s own version of ‘If I Ruled The World’ (the Nas song she sang the hook on). It’s almost like she wrote this verse for that song. In any case, here we see Ms. Hill being political, vulnerable, smart, humane, and clever all at once. From proclamations that she is a Christian (“teach a man to find Jehovah”) to respect for other religions (“do Selaat,” “Copy the earth like the Moors” and “make the god respect the earth”–a 5 percent reference) she demonstrates supreme depth as she reveals her humanity.

His references to murder rates and stopping wars indicate that he is a peace-loving person (at least when he’s not “beating a chicken”). His references to owning stores, giving out free Rovers and ‘taking the money’ show an acknowledgment of the capitalist system, but in the context of the rest of the verse, the listener understands that this is not the typical materialism one often sees in hip hop. Also, his reference to making ‘pigs’ angry shows that he shares the widespread disdain for police within the hip hop community, an interesting way of making an often-referenced point.

Another aspect of this verse that makes it so wonderful is Lauryn Hill’s proclamation that she wishes she could ‘lose the fame’. This gives us insight into the fact that even when the Fugees recorded The Score, Lauryn Hill was uncomfortable with the spotlight. This could provide insight and could even have served as a harbinger of Lauryn Hill’s eventual removal from the public eye. All of this is what makes this the best Lauryn Hill verse of all time.

Lauryn Hill’s impact on hip hop is undeniable. She will hopefully come back to hip hop and give us more great verses.

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