THE SCORE: Fugees album turns 25


There’s something Pavlovian about the lyrics: “We used to be number ten, now we’re permanent at one.” The opening line of the first single off the legendary second album from the Fugees still conjures up the sonic experience of summer 1996. After all, the song “Fu-Gee-La”, released in December of ‘95, set the tone and precedence for “The Score” which debuted two months later. The follow-up to 1994’s “Blunted On Reality” laid the groundwork for Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras to usher in a memorable year for classic hip-hip. “The Score” peaked at #1 on the US charts and stayed on repeat for months on end from coast to coast. In America, the album was certified 6x platinum. Hit singles “Killing Me Softly” and “Ready Or Not” sealed the deal for the Fugees to win Best Rap Album at the Grammy Awards. With over 20 million copies sold worldwide, sales figures of “The Score” have been surpassed by only three other hip-hop albums, two from Eminem and one from Lauryn Hill herself.

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Despite the group’s subsequent breakup, the legacy of “The Score” is still solid 25 years later. By now, the details of why the group failed are well-documented. Though hopes of a Refugee Camp reunion are delusional, it’s worth mentioning how that kismet energy between them filtered into the solo projects that followed. Wyclef Jean’s “The Carnival”, which came out in 1997, prominently featured both of his bandmates. By 1998, however, Ms. Lauryn Hill’s debut “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” all but sealed the fate of the Fugees, while Pras’ “Ghetto Supastar” became more of a cult classic, in comparison. Speaking on the impact of “The Score” on its 20th anniversary in 2016, Wyclef compared the album to a good book or Motown record that is timeless: “The Fugees makes us feel something. It doesn’t matter the era, because it’s all just music.”

Written by Mai Perkins

Mai Perkins is Cali girl in a Bed-Stuy world who contributes to several digital platforms that feature Black arts, culture, and lifestyle. She is also the author of “The Walking Nerve-Ending”. Completing an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in International Affairs from The New School, she reps her beloved alma mater Howard University with great pride and swag. IG: @flymai16

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