“Loving you is like a battle / And we both end up with scars.” The push and pull of love is a topic tailor-made for musical atonement. Hip-hop/R&B artist Lauryn Hill sealed her spot as a musical icon with just one studio album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Released in 1998, it is the perfect example of a timeless album. Among its many treasures is “Ex-Factor,” which experienced a resurgence thanks to being sampled Drake’s 2018 hit, “Nice for What.” “Nice for What” is energetic and upbeat, while the “Ex-Factor” is plagued by relationship issues.
Throughout “Ex-Factor,” Hill sings about the dysfunction and the inconsistency of her relationship. Memorably, she asks, “Tell me who I have to be / To get some reciprocity.” Essentially, she feels she’s fighting hard for him, but he’s not doing the same for her. One of the biggest statements arrives on the chorus, where she asserts the ineffectiveness of the relationship, struggles to break up: “And when I try to walk away / You’d hurt yourself to make me stay / This is crazy.” The drama and emotion expand on the soulful-gospel infused outro, where Hill states all of the promises he said he’d fulfill, but ultimately failed. This sounds truly therapeutic for her – she’s releasing the mess.
“Ex-Factor” exemplifies music to atone to. It’s relatable and provides the inevitable solution to bad love – if “it ain’t workin’,” it’s time to let it go. Providing even more atonement is lush, gorgeous production work, fueled by a sample of “Can It All Be So Simple.” Still fresh, years later.
You can learn more about Lauryn Hill here:
About The Curator - Brent Faulkner
Slightly eccentric with interests that seem to know no ends, restless ‘Renaissance Man’ is the best way to characterize Brent Faulkner, a native of Kentucky. A certified music educator, multi-instrumentalist, and composer known for his incredibly sharp ear, he lives and breathes music of a variety of styles. In addition to passion for educating, performing, and writing music, he’s equally passionate blogging and writing about it, managing his own site, The Musical Hype (https://themusicalhype.com). When he’s not intensely analyzing music, you can find him reading or watching a movie, reality television or some sporting event.