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The year is 1998. I am 10 years old, and in the 5th grade…listening to Lauryn Hill in my room, picking up random imaginary microphones and rapping along with “Doo Wop (That Thing)”…at that point there were probably things in the lyrics that I didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. The lyrics were clean enough for my parents to approve my listening, and real enough for them to enjoy it too. I played that CD in my Sony Discman until I firmly knew every word of every song…took a break…then continued to play it again and again. That brings us to 2010.

I’m a few short weeks away from being 22, and I’m still in the mirror singing songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but the Discman is now an iPad and I have firm grasp on the meaning behind the lyrical content. That’s what you call timeless music. With such a huge following…from one studio solo album, it’s not surprising that so many people have been waiting anxiously for her return to music. After taking time off to raise her family, it seems as though Lauryn is ready to step back into the spotlight. She’s headlining the Rock The Bells festival, and for the first time in over 10 years, she’s back on the Billboard charts.

Several weeks ago, a track called Repercussions leaked and set the internet ablaze. No one even knows if the song is new or old, but it’s definitely not a label-sanctioned single. That doesn’t change the fact that this week it entered the charts at #94 on Billboard’s Hip Hop/R&B charts. So what is it about Lauryn that we love so much? Is it the fact that she’s one of the illest female MC’s of all time? Is it her powerful alto? Whatever the case may be, she’s still relevant 12 years after her last album. How many artists can you say that about? It’s a very elite group, that’s for sure.