The Score by Fugees (1996)

12Jul11

Artist: Fugees
Album: The Score
Year: 1996
Genre: Hip Hop

Mood: rebellious

You’ll like this if you like: a good mix of genres, from rap to reggae with some real quality singing and instrumentation mixed in

Best Tracks: ‘Killing Me Softly’, ‘Fu-Gee-La’, ‘Ready or Not’, ‘Zealots’

Why Should You Care?
This record wasn’t the Fugee’s first, but it was the one that put them on the map. Rap enthusiasts caught on when ‘Vocab’ and ‘Nappy Heads’ highlighted their first record, but on The Score it was clear that Fugees were looking to reach out to a bigger audience. Remember that in 1996 there was a huge identity crisis going on in popular music…Kurt Cobain was gone, boy bands were starting to hit the scene, and the only glimmer of hope in popular music were the rap/rock fusion acts like Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock. Napster was still years away from saving the fans. It was truly a sad time for music. So Fugees became more than just another hip hop group…the world needed them! Their blend of rap and R&B was a breath of fresh air, and not something that had been done as frequently in music as we see today. Back then if you wanted to combine the two, you got Biggie to rap on a Total track, or you threw Foxy Brown into a Jay Z track. Fugees were bringing something new to the table.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean are legends, but in this form (along with third band member Pras) they were only beginning to make a name for themselves. Hill mostly rapped on their first record, instead of showing off her now famous pipes. And Wyclef hadn’t really featured his guitar mastery yet, relying more on studio beats. ‘How Many Mics’ wasn’t a thrilling opening track, sounding like it could have been on Blunted on Reality. But as the record continued into ‘Ready or Not’ and ‘Zealots’, the band’s musical muscles started to flex. You gotta love the ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ sample on ‘Zealots’. Wyclef’s cool cover of ‘No Woman, No Cry’ stood out, ‘Fu-Gee-La’ got a ton of airplay, and there are some other notable jams like ‘Cowboys’. But nothing hit quite like ‘Killing Me Softly’. Sure, it’s a remake…but Lauryn Hill jumped right off of the page with that beautiful voice.

My little brother bought this tape pretty quickly, and played it on repeat. It took a while to grow on me…to be honest I’m more of a fan of Wyclef and Hill as solo acts, but it’s hard to deny that The Score was epic and important to popular music. Sadly, this was the last album from Fugees. Wyclef and Hill of course both went on to have respectable solo careers, but rumors of infighting and psychological issues have kept the band apart. There have been occasional appearances as a group, but what the world really wants is another Fugees record. It’s not all bad to fade into history the way that they did. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill will always be known as an all-time great R&B album, Wyclef’s records were great (he is also one hell of a performer)…surely a reunion of sorts would fail to live up to the lofty expectations. Pras has said that it will never happen, so I’ll take his word for it, and will just remember Fugees as the best thing to happen to R&B music in the 90s.

music turtle recommends: CLASSIC!

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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3 Responses to “The Score by Fugees (1996)”

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