Usually the phrases "alternative hip-hop" and "best selling album of all time" aren't used in the same sentence. But seldom does an album come along such as The Fugees second album, "The Score", which grants the use of both. Released in 1996, the album sold over 18 million copies, making it one of the best selling hip-hop albums of all time.
Comprised of Wyclef, Lauren Hill and Pras, The Fugees only released one album before "The Score", the underground hit "Blunted on Reality." Using that as a jumping off point, the group put together an epic album that is considered by critics and fans to be one of the best and most creative albums of all time.
The unique and inventive album dropped at a time when gangsta rap was at its peak, with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg working on the west coast, and artists such as the Notorious BIG and Jay-Z hustling on the east coast. The timing couldn’t have been better for The Fugees. They were able to tap a huge group of hip-hop fans who were less interested in thug life and hoping for some more socially conscious, intelligent hip hop.
Just take “Fu-Gee-La”, which was produced by Salaam Remi, contains a sample of "If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Right" by Ramsey Lewis, and is one of the most unique tracks on the album. Pras spits one of the best verses on the album, as he raps: “From Hawaii to Hawthorne, I run marathons/like Buju Banton, I'm a true champion/ike Farakkhan reads his Daily Qu'ran it's a phenomenon/lyrics fast like Ramadan.”
Two of the best tracks on the album are covers ("No Woman, No Cry”, and “Killing Me Softly with His Song”), but The Fugees put their stamp on them and really make each their own. That is something that is extremely difficult to do, especially when the songs are so well known and loved like “No Woman, No Cry”. Lauren Hill shows that she is one of the most talented vocalists of her generation as she takes hold on each the tracks.
“Ready or Not” is my personal favorite track from the album. The song contains a sample of "Boadicea" by Enya, and its chorus is based on "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by The Delfonics.
The confidence and ferocity on this track are unmatched, as Wyclef raps: “Gun blast, think fast, I think I'm hit/My girl pinched my hips to see if I still exist/I think not, I'll send a letter to my friends/A born again hooligan only to be king again”
The release marked a resurgence for alternative hip-hop and the fact that The Fugees were to soon break up, releasing only two albums total, makes “The Score” even more emphatic. If they had stayed together could they have made an album even better than "The Score"? We'll never know. Either way it ranks as one of the most distinctive hip-hop albums of its era. It’s most definitely a classic.