#tbt Fugees / The Score (1996)

By Adam Parrilli
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It is difficult to comprehend why The Score had to be the Fugees last album. Did the parts start to believe they added up to more than a whole? Was it that there wasn’t enough creative airspace?
It’s unclear. What’s not, is that the public loved The Score. The record topped the Billboard 200, and was certified platinum six times by the RIAA, later picking up a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance by Duo or group.

Baited by the Lauryn Hill led ‘come-out performance’ on “Killing Me Softly,” this second single from The Score took the Fugees to new heights and fame. The other singles, “Fu-Gee-La” and “Ready Or Not,” hewed closer to a traditional hip hop song, but were different, because Lauryn’s vocals on the hooks made both tracks succeed at another level.

My personal favorite may be “How Many Mics,” on which Wyclef gets to shine a bit more and Pras even spits some lines. Towards the end of The Score there is an ‘almost cover’ of “No Woman, No Cry,” that raises the reggae quotient and feels sequenced perfectly within the run of the LP.

Not to be lost is the whole concept of The Score. The group largely self-produced the record (well, I might say), plucked some fine samples, and used a font/layout that echoed the elements of a movie poster. Pursuant to that kernel of knowledge, Hill would say about The Score, “It’s an audio film. It’s like how radio was back in the 1940s. It tells a story, and there are cuts and breaks in the music. It’s almost like a hip hop version of Tommy, like what The Who did for rock music.”

Looking back, we may never have gotten The Miseducation (EXCEPTIONAL!) or The Carnival (better in its time) had the Fugees not imploded.

Catch Ms. Lauryn Hill as she embarks on a 10-day North American tour late this summer and
listen to “How Many Mics” below.

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