When The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released on August 25, 1998, Lauryn Hill was 23 years old and pregnant with her second child, having experienced multi-platinum success, a world tour with The Fugees, and enough heartbreak to last a lifetime—or at least to span 14 tracks of a solo debut. Her studio band, New Ark—comprised of Vada Nobles, Rasheem “Kilo” Pugh, and twins Tejumold and Johari Newton, whom XXL spoke to extensively yesterday—was not much older. Together, the five of them would write the majority of a hip-hop classic, weaving reggae, funk, R&B and doo wop into an album that speaks as clearly today as it did on its release fifteen years ago.
During XXL‘s investigation into the album, Kilo and the Newton twins helped explain how each song was made, from the writing process to the recording to the genesis and execution of the ideas. But fifteen years is a long time, and with this album—especially with the writing and recording process so contentious throughout the years—some memories have been distorted by time, leading to a handful of contradictions; some songs may forever be in dispute. But to continue celebrating the album’s fifteenth anniversary, XXL is letting some of the co-creators speak for themselves on what they remember of the making of the album.