MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
LaurynHill-Unplugged2.0.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedMay 7, 2002
RecordedJuly 21, 2001
VenueMTV Studios in New York
Genre
Length106:36
LabelColumbia
Producer
Lauryn Hill chronology
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
(1998)
MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
(2002)

MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 is a live album by American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. The performance comes from her 2002 MTV Unplugged special recorded on July 21, 2001 at MTV Studios in Times Square, New York City. Hill abandoned the hip hop sounds of her debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) in favor of folk and soul songs she performed with an acoustic guitar. The songs were interspersed with spoken interludes about her personal and artistic struggles.

When MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 was released, it received mixed reviews and modest sales. Most critics found Hill's performances self-indulgent and repetitive, while some appreciated the album as a bold and sincere change in artistic direction. The album has since received retrospective acclaim by critics who have praised the album for being unique and bold. It has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, having shipped one million copies in the United States.

Music and lyrics

For MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, Hill departed from the hip hop sounds of her debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) in favor of austerely performed acoustic soul and folk-based songs. She jokingly described herself as a "hip-hop folk singer",[1] and according to Robert Hilburn, assumed the role of a folk singer accompanied only by her acoustic guitar.[2] Rather than singing any of her previous hits, Hill debuted all new songs in a folk style and, in between songs, spoke at length about her personal and artistic struggles.[3]

Release and Initial Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[5]
Entertainment WeeklyB–[6]
The Guardian2/5 stars[7]
NME5/10[8]
Q4/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[11]
Slant Magazine2.5/5 stars[12]
The Village VoiceD–[13]

MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 received mixed reviews and modest sales upon its release.[14] It debuted and peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, where it charted for fourteen weeks.[15] The album was certified Platinum by RIAA, a month after its release.[16] Most critics questioned Hill's discipline as an artist on the album.[2] In Entertainment Weekly, David Browne said it was "perhaps the most bizarre follow-up in the history of [popular music]", appreciating some of the music's "poetic flow" but finding it exhausting to hear Hill's "strummed sermons directed at unspecified enemies and soul crushers".[6] Alexis Petridis panned the record as "messy" and "inconsequential", mostly because of what he felt were her clichéd self-help lyrics and self-indulgent monologues: "A scant handful of powerful moments, including a furious meditation on the police shooting of a young black man, 'I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel)', are outweighed by repetitious rambling."[7] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called it one of the "worst albums ever released by an artist of substance", finding the songs overlong, verbose, and unmelodic. Christgau was also critical of Hill's singing voice, calling it typically poor, and "a solo guitar [she] can barely strum (the first finger-picked figure occurs on track 10, where it repeats dozens upon dozens of times, arghh)."[13]

Some critics appreciated MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 as a radical and bold change in direction by Hill.[2] In a positive review, AllMusic's William Ruhlmann conceded that Hill's spoken interludes sounded vain and foolish but still felt the album was "fascinating" as an "unfinished, unflinching presentation of ideas and of a person".[4] Q was more enthusiastic, finding her songs beautifully sincere and performed austerely in a way that recalled the vibrant quality of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" (1980).[9]

"Mystery of Iniquity" was nominated at the 45th Grammy Awards for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.

Legacy

In retrospective reviews, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 has gained more acclaim and positive reviews,[17][18][19] and has been regarded as a milestone in pop star reinvention, with The New York Times considering it a “classic performance”.[20] Rolling Stone ranked it as “The Boldest Career Move” by a female artist and ninth overall in rock history.[21] Songs from the album have been sampled and interpolated by many artists including Kanye West, ASAP Rocky, Frank Ocean,[22] Jazmine Sullivan,[23] and Method Man. In a retrospective review for Albumism, Daryl McIntosh wrote “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 is one of the most unique albums ever captured on tape. One that points straight into the soul of this once-in-a-lifetime artist in raw form, exposing both the brilliance that we fell in love with when we first heard her voice and the fragility of the human spirit.”[24] Katy Iandoli of Revolt, praised the album’s socially driven material, stating the songs “I Get Out” and “Mr. Intentional” are now the constructs of modern-day thinkpieces rooted in self-empowerment and “letting go”, while referring to the album as “ahead of its time.“[25] Andy Greene of Rolling Stone, commended the album calling it “the most unique, unpolished Unplugged ever to see the light of day.”[26]

Solange Knowles cited the album as inspiration for her critically acclaimed album A Seat At The Table.[27] Adele has stated her love for the album on many occasions.[28] Sam Smith tweeted that MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 is their "Bible".[29]

The BoomBox listed the album among the "10 Underrated Sophomore Rap Albums From the '90s”.[30] Blavity ranked it third on their “12 Old "MTV Unplugged" Performances That Were Beyond Epic”.[31] BBC named it one of the ten most memorable "MTV unplugged" performances ever.[32] uDiscover Music ranked it as the ninth "Best "MTV Unplugged" Performances: 15 Era-Defining Appearances” list.[33]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Lauryn Hill, except "So Much Things To Say" written by Bob Marley.

Disc one
No.TitleLength
1."Intro"2:28
2."Mr. Intentional"6:58
3."Adam Lives in Theory"7:26
4."Interlude 1"1:55
5."Oh Jerusalem"8:54
6."Interlude 2"1:21
7."Freedom Time"4:59
8."Interlude 3"3:18
9."I Find It Hard To Say (Rebel)"6:50
10."Just Like Water"6:09
11."Interlude 4"1:41
12."Just Want You Around"4:36
13."I Gotta Find Peace of Mind"9:19
Disc two
No.TitleLength
1."Interlude 5"12:12
2."Mystery of Iniquity"5:11
3."Interlude 6"1:42
4."I Get Out"5:17
5."Interlude 7"0:20
6."I Remember"3:46
7."So Much Things To Say"5:59
8."The Conquering Lion"3:20
9."Outro"2:57
Total length:106:36

Notes

Charts

Certifications

RegionCertification
Canada[55]Platinum
United States[56]Platinum

References

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  2. ^ a b c Hilburn, Robert (July 15, 2002). "Hill Continues Her Lofty Course". Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  3. ^ Bauder, David (May 10, 2002). "The misstep of Lauryn Hill?". Associated Press. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Review: MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Muze. p. 290. ISBN 0195313739.
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  7. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis. Review: MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  8. ^ Needham, Alex. Review: MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. NME. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  9. ^ a b Q. London: 121. June 2002. ...Less is indeed more; performed so simply, each song has the resonance of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'...Hill's traditional songwriting values and strong roots in '70s soul music mean that a beautiful and heartfelt song requires nothing more than her gritty sweet voice and funky strumming...CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  10. ^ Rolling Stone: 78. May 23, 2002. ...An unpolished collection of thirteen demos sung and strummmed exclusively by the ex-Fugee....this tender renegade purposefully does what she's gotta do to keep her music sacred...CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
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External links