50 Years Of Hip-Hop (Part 1): Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Run-DMC and more

50 Years Of Hip-Hop (Part 1): Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Run-DMC and more

This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, with a legendary DJ Kool Herc party in the Bronx on August 11, 1973 commonly cited as its glorious moment of inception. To celebrate for a special edition of Music Week, we asked over 100 names – featuring everyone from Chuck D and Kanya King to top executives, broadcasters, managers, producers and more – to pick and salute one album that impacted their lives and pushed hip-hop culture forward...

The joint most popular album pick of those we surveyed? Lauryn Hill’s Grammy-winning solo debut, which shares the crown with a certain 50 Cent record. But with Hill also securing two nods for The Fugees’ classic The Score, she’s officially the most popular artist of our 50 Years Of Hip-Hop celebration… 


“The first time I heard those skits, I was hooked. I was obsessed with L Boogie already, but the introspective nature of her lyrics – daring to explore themes of love and relationships on songs like Ex-Factor, I Used To Love Him and Forgive Them Father – woven with blended elements of hip-hop, R&B, soul and reggae just converted me into the ultimate superfan. I loved that Lauryn Hill challenged and defied gender norms in hip-hop, asserting her individuality and addressing the topics often neglected in mainstream rap. I still quote lyrics from the album today: ‘Beware the false motives of others, be careful of those who pretend to be brothers’. By embracing her femininity, she created space for other women in hip-hop and inspired a new generation of women to express themselves authentically, including myself.” Taponeswa Mavunga (Sony Music UK)

“The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, released just before my 14th birthday, quite literally changed my life! It resonated with me on so many levels, serving as a musical testament to both the struggles and triumphs ahead on my path and providing me with a sense of representation within mainstream music. From her introspective lyricism and powerful vocal delivery, to her fearless approach to music fusion and centering themes of love, self-empowerment, and social justice, the album ignited a fire within me that still burns to this day. It gave me permission to embrace my own unique identity and cultural heritage. Quite simply, it is a timeless soundtrack that has empowered me to navigate life’s challenges with strength and authenticity.” Afryea Henry-Fontaine (Motown UK/Black Music Coalition)

“In an era of male dominated hip-hop, to hear Lauryn Hill, a Black woman, singing solo was extremely uplifting for me. Hearing her powerful and honest lyrics about her identity and relationships in the songs Ex-Factor and Nothing Even Matters just blew me away. I could easily connect with her words and felt the passion both in her voice and in her musical production. This was the album that gave me the courage to push the boundaries in terms of my own songwriting.” Jin Jin (songwriter)

“What can’t be said about this album and this amazing rapper/singer/movement!? Lauryn Hill and The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill are one of one, and as such we will never get another album like this again – ever! This album has always resonated to me as Ms Hill – as she likes to be called – created a masterpiece that was brutally honest and relatable on issues such as love, motherhood, break-ups, life and womanhood.” Zeze Millz (The Zeze Millz Show/Amazon, +44)

“This album shaped my life – it is spiritual, groundbreaking and timeless. The record has been relevant at every prominent moment in my life. At a time when hip-hop could feel like it wasn’t for women, this album was incredibly empowering.” Shauni Caballero (Sony Music Publishing)

“When it came out, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill blew my 14-year-old mind. It was the first hip-hop album I had heard by a woman, it was tough, raw and confident with such artistic range. It’s a phenomenal album that has really stood the test of time.” Lizzie Dickson (YouTube)


“The Score was an important album in hip-hop which achieved both critical and commercial success and propelled The Fugees to international stardom, but, for me, it was the prominent role of Lauryn Hill that was game-changing. She challenged the male-dominated rap scene at the time and laid the foundations for future female rappers to be taken seriously. The Score paved the way for her first and only solo album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, which to this day I personally consider one of the most seminal and influential albums in music. It still stands the test of time.” Negla Abdela (Ministry Of Sound)

“A legendary album that I first remember hearing when my aunty gifted the CD to my dad. I wasn’t allowed to listen to it, so I snuck it from his collection and played it in secret. Explicit content aside, I remember at eight years old being captured by the beats and hypnotised by some of the best hip-hop sampling ever (Zealots, Fu-Gee-La). I was too young to really appreciate the lyricism, but on revisiting the album in my early teens I fell in love with it all over again, dissecting Ms Hill’s poetry.” Janette Quaye (Black Butter


“The greatest rap album of all time is Run-DMC’s Raising Hell because it changed the way people looked at rap music. It showed the world that rap artists were album-oriented artists beyond the individual tracks. It was a solid album and made Run-DMC contemporaries of The Beatles, the Stones and Led Zeppelin in my book. For the first time in my life I thought that rap could seriously go blow to blow with rock – and that had nothing to do with Walk This Way. It was about the attitude and the beats. I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off it.” Chuck D (Public Enemy)


“Klashnekoff’s The Sagas Of... dropped during a golden period for British MC albums, one that included the magnum opus efforts from Dizzee Rascal and Kano. Either of those two could have been my choice but with a strict ‘hip-hop’ criteria lens I’m going to go for The Sagas Of… which dominated car speakers and Nokia phones in the summer of ’04.” Austin Daboh (Atlantic)


“I think it was fate that Lupe Fiasco dropped Food & Liquor at the moment when I was weighing the possibility of becoming a music journalist. That album cemented the dream for me. The storytelling, the flows, the social commentary, the production… A Black kid from Chicago rapping about skateboarding? Lupe changed my view of what hip-hop was and could be.” Nadeska Alexis (Apple Music 1) 

Click here to read more about our special edition of Music Week celebrating 50 years of hip-hop.

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