What’s good folks, great to see you back to ride with me once again. I definitely appreciate the love I’ve been getting saluting albums that are celebrating twenty year anniversaries. We’ve highlighted albums such as ATLiens, Muddy Waters, Hell On Earth, and Don Kiluminati: The 7 Day Theory. All albums that are greatly influential benchmarks in Hip Hop and guess what? We’re not done yet.
The album I’m covering in this piece set new standards in artistic concepts and is among the most well-produced albums ever made. Not to mention, an iconic figure was made: it became one of the genre’s highest-selling albums ever recorded. Sadly, it would also be The Fugees’ last album.
In the February of ’96, three Jersey natives were getting lots of buzz from a very eerie sounding track called “How Many Mics”. This was FAR from from the sounds that came from the trio formerly known as the Translator Crew and their debut album, Blunted On Reality. While the album wasn’t terrible (I mean it did produce the ridiculous Salaam Remi-remix to “Nappy Heads”), it was of fairly mixed quality.
“How Many Mics”, however, was NUTS. This couldn’t have been the same Fugees, could it? It turns out, this was a street single. We then got hit with “Fu-Gee-La”, and we knew we would potentially have something special on our hands. Lyrically, everyone stepped up, plus we were starting to see the jewel of Ms. Hill, on just these two cuts. It was the second single however that officially sent the album into the stratosphere. They dropped Lauryn’s solo endeavor, the remaking of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly”, and it was a wrap. This cut made an already highly acclaimed album even more sought after.
When The Score dropped, we were exposed to a musical endeavor that was unique and rich in lush sampling as anything we had heard in many years. With production from Salaam Remi (who would later be Nas’ main producer), Diamond, and mostly Clef, this still stands as one of Hip Hop’s best-produced gems of all-time.
The Score was clearly an album made to make them pop music’s next official stars. With famed crossover cuts like the aforementioned “Killing Me Softly”, there was Clef’s solo effort, Bob Marley’s highly revered “No Woman, No Cry” and the simply dope “Ready Or Not” that made the album gained fans they never dreamed of having with album number one.
However, there are other tracks that packed as much punch such as “Cowboys”, the 2Pac dis with The Outsidaz, Rah Digga, and John Forte, the Flamingos-sampled “Zealots”, and the fantastic title track that made this unlike anything being heard during this time period. This album is painted as the struggles of the ghetto mixed in with organic freedom, liberation, and being in easy-minded spaces. Reminiscent of stuff you might hear from De La Soul or Tribe, this is an eargasm of incredible production and a fresh approach to being different in Hip Hop.
From this album came the downward spiral, as each did their own thing and due to internal conflict (primarily between Hill and Clef), there was only one reunion, and that was during the filming of Dave Chappelle’s Black Party movie. Nothing else surfaced from it. Clef dropped The Carnival to critical and commercial success, selling over two million units (though on the other hand Pras’ debut Ghetto Superstar wasn’t nearly as successful). We all know how L-Boogie’s debut became: one of music’s timeless treasures.
Of course, us as fans would LOVE one more ride from the trio, but we may never get it at this point in the game. Therefore all we can do reminisce on the great times we had, reveling in the sheer beauty that was The Score. It went on the sell over fifteen million worldwide, with seven million sold in the U.S. alone. The Fugees showed us with The Score that Hip Hop can still keep musical integrity while crossing over and creating new standards of conceptual forward thinking.
Happy twentieth to The Score, as this was in one word: BRILLIANT.