The Fugees (Wyclef Jean, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Pras Michael, (AP Photo)
By Jessica Dortch
Special to the AFRO
The legendary hip-hop group, Fugees, is credited with being a major part of the cultural shift in the 90s rap game. The trio, composed of Pras Michael, Wyclef Jean and Ms. Lauryn Hill announced on Sept. 21 that they will reunite for a 12-city tour, including a stop in Washington D.C. This year marks the 25th anniversary of their second and final album “The Score,” which is arguably one of the greatest rap albums of all time. The group hasn’t performed together in 15 years.
“When the news about the Fugees 25th anniversary tour on IG broke, I was not only excited about Ms. Lauryn Hill, Wyflef Jean and Pras settling their differences to go on tour, but I also thought about how influential the Fugees was in the late 90s to hip hop culture,” Baltimore resident and self-proclaimed “hip-hop head” Christel York explained.
Everything the Fugees did was intentional: from their wardrobe to the content of their music and even their name. A play off the word “refugee,” which speaks to the background of Haitian-born rapper Wyflec Jean, the Fugees were more than a rap group, they were a political statement.
However, it was the trio’s diversity that caught the music industry’s attention. “I do not believe there’s been a more successful album with two emcees and a singer, who is also an emcee, since ‘The Score’ happened. The synergy of that trio was such a pinnacle point for hip hop in general because it showed that the mold could be broken,” Philadelphia resident Jason Dortch, who is also the writer’s brother, said. Several hip hop groups made their debut in the 90s, but none of them featured a female emcee, especially one who doubled as a vocalist.
“At the time ‘The Score’ was released, in 1996, no other group sounded like the Fugees or had a female in the group who could spit harder than her male counterparts and then smooth the record out with her vocals,” York recalled.
It’s safe to say that Ms. Lauryn Hill is one of a kind, with one of the most recognizable voices in the music industry even today. Ms. Hill was a breath of fresh air in a male-dominated genre and quickly won the hearts of her fans and the respect of her peers.
“The Score,” the album that cemented the Fugees’ place in hip-hop history, was a mixture of socially conscious rhymes, catchy hooks and melodic tunes. “That was an era where lyricism was peaking and becoming real music that spoke relatable messages but had the vibe, the swagger and the tunes to go with it,” Dortch said.
Once fans got wind of the announcement, there was an immediate outpouring of love and excitement to experience the nostalgia of the group’s reunion. The Fugees got a sample of that outpouring in person at their recent pop-up performance in New York City as they get ready to hit the road.
Dortch said he is relieved the group was able to “squash their beef” and get back to making music again. “I never got to see them on tour before, so I’m excited to see them now and relive that moment, because that album meant a lot to me in my formative years.”
York plans to attend one of the shows and hopes things run smoothly. “I cannot wait to buy my ticket, and, yes, I have faith that Ms. Hill will show up and be on time to perform. Prayers needed though!”
Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members! Join here!