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It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while you’ll play the first chords of a record and you know immediately that this piece of art is going to become a part of you. Not just something you listen to as background music, not something you dance, absentmindedly in the club, but something you internalize. You find yourself recalling the lyrics to songs and applying them to the real life situations you face. We all have these gems. So let’s dig in with the masterpieces that I carry with me.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill

No need to beat around the bush. Quite a few black people born after 1970 would include this national treasure on their list. Lauryn was preaching in her first solo album. The Miseducation is the perfect combination of righteous and real. It always amazes me how perspective-changing art makes it’s way into our lives. A friend of my mother’s gifted me with this album for a random occasion and for months it never left my discman. I was only a fifth grader when this album hit the streets but even as a youngster I knew it was profound. I can’t tell you how many hours I sat, in my room, in my back yard, on the school bus, absorbing the knowledge Lauryn was dropping. The album made me laugh, cry, dance and think. It was perfection.

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