Fugees (or The Fugees) are a famous hip-hop trio from The '90s. Formed in 1992 in South Orange, New Jersey, the members of the group are rapper/singer/producer Wyclef Jean, rapper/singer/producer Lauryn Hill and rapper/producer Pras Michel.
The group is known primarily for jump-starting Alternative Hip Hop into the mainstream. Before them, most artists in the scene usually stayed in the underground. Now it's hard to get away from the scene, as roughly 50 percent of hip-hop heard on the radio is alternative.
Their first album, 1994's Blunted In Reality, fused elements of political rap, jazz and Neo Soul. Although it was positively received upon release, it's not nearly as acknowledged as their follow-up, 1996's The Score. This album was critically praised, won two Grammy Awards (further becoming the second rap album in history to be nominated for Album of the Year), and is now considered a classic of its decade and of all time. Notable on the album was "Killing Me Softly", which was a Roberta Flack cover.
After the album, the group split up due to internal conflict, and each member pursued a solo career. Hill has had the most successful one, primarily through the massive success of her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (which later became a source of controversy when Hill was revealed to have not written most of the album's music). Wyclef has had a semi-successful career, gaining acclaim for his debut solo album The Carnival and subsequently scoring top 5 hits with Carlos Santana, Destiny's Child and Shakira. Pras focused on soundtrack recordings and acting, though he found commercial success with his song "Ghetto Supastar".
Unfortunately for the group, it was later revealed that Wyclef and Hill had been on-again, off-again lovers and that during production of Hill's solo album, the two had a nasty falling out that derailed any chances for a full-time reunion (though the trio have briefly reunited for live performances and reunion tours, most recently in 2023). While Wyclef and Pras continue to record, Hill has become a Reclusive Artist and only sporadically makes new material.
In 2007, MTV ranked them the 9th greatest hip-hop group of all time.
- Blunted on Reality (1994)
- The Score (1996)
This musical trio provides examples of:
- Album Filler: The Score has filler moments after each song. Most of it still worth listening to, since it is pretty humorous.
- "Shouts Out from the Block" from "Blunted on Reality", a shout-out to all their friends and colleagues, which takes over 9 minutes (!) and is just an inside-joke List Song, uninteresting to people outside their personal network of friends.
- Album Intro Track: Done on "Blunted on Reality" and "The Score".
- Cover Version: Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" and Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" on The Score.
- Dumb Muscle: Pras fits the bill here. On The Score, his verses lack the complexity or even the length of Lauryn's or Wyclef's. But they all seem to paint him as the tough-guy bodyguard of the group who knows how to handle his business in any street fight, shootout, car chase or what have you. His flow is hard, distant, deliberate and authoritative in contrast to his more free-spirited teammates.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Behind the scenes, though, Pras had arguably the strongest pop ear of the three—for instance, it was his idea for the group to cover "Killing Me Softly," and to include the "Bonita Applebum" sample that helped their rendition stand out. This is a big reason why Pras got the lead executive producer credit on The Score, with Wyclef and Lauryn listed as his co-executive producers.
- Drugs Are Bad: Rather ambiguous in their message. On the one hand they criticize it, on the other hand they reference it at least once in all their lyrics.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The lyrics on "Blunted On Reality" are difficult to follow because everybody shouts and raps so hard, while the beats are so prominent that they distract from the lyrics. No tracks stand out and Lauryn Hill isn't as prominently represented as she would be on "The Score".
- Fugitive Arc: Their band name.note Also a theme on their albums.
- Genre Roulette: The band tried to combine elements from reggae and ragga in their hiphop songs.
- Jump Scare: Lauryn says "Boo" in the introduction of "Blunted On Reality".
- Large Ham: Wyclef. For example: check out "Mista Mista" in which he's Chewing the Scenery beyond the ridiculous.
- Let's Get Out of Here: Both on "Blunted On Reality" and "The Score" some sketches have the band running away from the police.
- List Song: Each album ends with a spoken list full of shout-outs to all their friends. While the one on "The Score" is short and to the point the one on "Blunted On Reality" takes over 9 (!) minutes!
- Male Band, Female Singer: Lauryn Hill as the female vocalist of the group, a strange case considering most of the bands that has this trope are from Rock and Heavy Metal.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Wyclef Jean imitates Louis Armstrong's voice on "Nappy Heads" on "Blunted On Reality".
- Reference Overdosed: It would warrant its own page.
- Sampling: "Rumble in the Jungle", written for When We Were Kings, samples the bassline from ABBA's "The Name of the Game". This was the first time Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus had ever given permission for their work to be sampled.
- Shout-Out: "Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart is referenced both on "Blunted on Reality", as well as on "The Score".
- Special Guest: The reggae duo Sly & Robbie on The Score.
- Spoken Word in Music: The Fugees enjoyed making humourous sketches and skits between the album tracks.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Wyclef, Pras and Lauryn.