First Impressions: The 50 Best Album-Opening Songs in Rap History

32. Lauryn Hill "Lost Ones" (1998)

Producer: Lauryn Hill, Che' Guevara, Vada Nobles
Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Label: Ruffhouse, Columbia


The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is not a rap album as much as an album that sprouted from the soil of rap, so it's fitting that the album's 14 songs grow from "Lost Ones," a pugnaciously pure rap song—perhaps the only one she ever recorded as a solo artist. Built around a simple block party beat self-produced by Hill, the song gives us one last dance with the rugged New Jersey-bred rapper—a persona Hill would soon abandon (as soon as the end of the album, some might say). She flirts with the spiritualism that would soon engulf her career and lets loose a line or two that would come back to haunt her ("Every man want to act like he's exempt / When him need to get down on his knees and repent " sounds different in light of Lauryn's IRS offenses) but none of it mattered. This song shows her knocking her fists before a set of turntables. No matter how off course she eventually strayed, she'll always be planted here, in a pair of big black Timberlands. Sam Sweet

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