Top 10 Fugees Songs

Fugees Songs

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Our Top 10 Fugees Songs lists takes a look at one of the most successful hip hop groups from the 90s era. The name Fugees came from the word refugees. The members are Wyclef Jean, Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill. Their claim to fame was their successful album The Score which was released in 1996. It was one of the best-selling albums of all time. The album sold over 22 million copies worldwide. Some of their big hits include “Killing Me Softly,” “Ready or Not” and “Fu-Gee-La.” There aren’t too many hip-hop acts who have sold as many records as they did during their career. They didn’t release too many albums because of friction in the group. We will get into that a little later. It’s time to get to know the Fugees a little better.

Nel Ust Wyclef Jean was born October 17, 1969. Prakazrel Samuel Michel was born October 19, 1972. Lauryn Noelle Hill was born May 26, 1975. Michel and Hill met while they were in high school. They started a group with a mutual friend. When the friend left the group Wyclef Jean (Pras’ friend) joined them. They went by the name Tranzlator Crew. The trio brought three genres together. Lauryn Hill had a soul music background. She listened to r&b music. She got her start singing in the church. Pras Michel loved hip-hop music, but he wasn’t allowed to listen to it at home. He did become fond of hard and alternative rock music. Wyclef Jean had a reggae background. They found a way to combine all of their favorite music to create their unique sound. In 1993, they signed with Ruff House Records. They changed their name to The Fugees. It was an odd name choice because the word is considered derogatory towards Haitian-Americans. They wanted to turn a negative into a positive. They stood out because the trio featured an American singer (Hill) and two Haitian rappers (Jean and Michel).

The Fugees

Photo: Montage by kanyfug, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The trio released their first album Blunted on Reality in 1994. The album was supposed to be released two years earlier, but they had issues with their record label. The Fugees felt like the producers had too much control over their work. The album received mostly positive reviews by the critics. The album peaked at number 62 on the r&b and hip-hop charts. The Fugees had political songs on the album. It features the singles “Boof Baf,” “Nappy Heads” and “Vocab.” The album sold over 130,000 copies worldwide. Unfortunately, the album didn’t do well at all. It’s still considered a classic album, but they would go on to achieve greater success with their next project.

The Score was released in 1996. The album featured a variety of samples as well as alternative hip-hop. The Fugees had more control over this album than they did on their previous one. The album was a monster hit for the trio. It peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and the r&b and hip-hop charts. It features the hit singles “Fu-Gee-La,” “Killing Me Softly,” “Ready or Not” and “No Woman No Cry.” The critics loved this album and praised it highly. They won Grammy Awards for the album. “Killing Me Softly” was the single that earned the trio a Grammy Award. The album also earned a Grammy for Best Rap Album. The project went on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide. You would think the hits would have continued to happen after the success of The Score. Unfortunately, they didn’t record any more albums together. The trio went on to do solo projects in 1997.

Lauryn Hill went on to write and produce for other artists. She also started working on her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album came out in 1998. There were rumors that the album was inspired by her relationship with Wyclef Jean. There were also rumors that Hill and Jean were a couple and that was why the album was about him. The album was a monster success for Hill. The album debuted at number one on the charts. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide. She won five Grammy Awards for her album. No other female artist achieved that feat at the time that she won her awards. Wyclef Jean wrote and produced for different artists. He also released his debut album Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival in 1997. Hill and Michel were featured on the album. The album peaked at number four on the r&b and hip-hop charts and number 16 on the Billboard 200 charts. Pras Michel recorded a hit single during their hiatus. They reunited in 2004 to do concerts.

Lauryn Hill of the Fugees

Photo: Lisa Liang, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fugees went on a European tour in 2005. Unfortunately, the tour received mixed reviews. They were supposed to record a follow up to The Score, but it didn’t work out. There was friction among the trio. They had creative differences while they were recording the album. They recorded a song titled “Lips Don’t Lie,” but Hill didn’t like the track. The song eventually went to Latin artist Shakira and was renamed “Hips Don’t Lie.” Lauryn Hill’s opinion of the song eventually led to the trio breaking up. They broke up bitterly after their creative differences. Michel refused to work with Hill again. Jean regretted doing the tours together because they weren’t ready for them. He thought Hill needed help since she was battling bipolar disorder. He believed they could have stayed together if she got the help she needed for her battle.

The trio managed to put their differences aside and reunite for another tour. The Fugees were considered one of the most influential trios of the 90s. They were one of the first alternative hip-hop acts to have crossover appeal. They are one of the biggest-selling hip-hop groups in history. There aren’t too many acts in music that are like The Fugees. They didn’t record many albums together, but they still managed to make an impact on music. Their work inspired many other artists to create music with meaning. Since they only have two albums, our Top 10 Fugees Songs list will consist of tracks from both projects.

# 10 – The Beast

The first song on our Top 10 Fugees Songs list is “The Beast” from The Score album. The song has a hip-hop sound to it. The political song is about what was going on in the world at the time. They talked about police brutality, government surveillance and racism. The visionary song is timely even to this day because these things are still happening in the world today. The song was written in the 90s and the message is still relevant today. Lyrically, the song has a deep message that will move anyone who hears it. The song is overshadowed by the hits on the album, but it has a powerful message. The beat is simple and to the point. The music basically consists of the guitar and the drums. It has a beat that you will make you bop your head. It’s hip-hop meets reggae music. It doesn’t sound like computer-generated music.

It sounds like genuine music is played during the song. They take their turn at the mic. Their flows are slowed down enough that you can understand what they are saying and flow along with them. Lauryn Hill proves that she’s such a talented performer. She can sing as well as rap. Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel do a great job with their rhymes. The drawback to the song is the skit at the end of it. There is a skit at a Chinese restaurant that’s racist and could be offensive. The skit wasn’t needed because it makes the song longer than it needed to be. It doesn’t add anything to the song. The lyrics spoke for themselves and the message was clear. The skit wasn’t needed to let us know that racism exists. It only makes them come off racist. Some people may find it funny, but some may be offended by it. If you can overlook that, the song is worth a listen.

# 9 –  How Many Mics

The next song on our Top 10 Fugees Songs list is “How Many Mics” is from The Score album. The song has a hip-hop and rap sound. The diss song takes shots at young people who rhyme for the wrong reasons. They respect people who rhyme with a purpose. The Fugees write songs with messages and meanings behind them so they don’t respect people who don’t feel that way. This song wasn’t written with a powerful message in mind. It was a chance for them to boast about their skills as rappers. They do manage to have a message within the song despite boasting about their skills. They want people to rap for the right reasons.

The beat will have you bop your head. The drumbeat stands out the most in the song. The trio gets their chance to shine once again. Hill starts the track by dissing kids who rap for the wrong reasons. This song shows just how good of a rapper she is. She’s not only a good singer, but she’s also a good rapper. She manages to talk about the kids who rap for the wrong reasons without being disrespectful. She rhymes in a way that’s educating the listeners. Jean’s rhymes include comic relief. He included a line from an 80s song “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart. It didn’t seem like it would fit in this song, but he made it work. Michel rhymes about having an entourage. He also name drops celebrities on the track. The song could use a better hook, but it’s still enjoyable.

# 8 – Living Like There Ain’t No Tomorrow

The cautionary song is from the Blunted on Reality album. It has a hip-hop and rap beat. The enigmatic song is about people trying to live dangerously. Wyclef Jean is flying solo on this track. He tells the story about people who are “living like there’s no tomorrow.” He gives different examples of how people are living recklessly. One story is about a woman who is having affair with his friend. One story is about a fatal attraction. Someone has a fight with a girl’s boyfriend.

The song is unique because it’s about different things. He knows how to weave a story together. He made each one sound interesting. The music has an old school sound. It sounds like 80s and early 90s rap music. Despite the music sounding a little dated, it’s still enjoyable. The music will have you on the dance floor. Wyclef Jean was given his chance to shine on the track without Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel. His rhyme is a little hard to understand at points in the song, but it doesn’t hurt it. You may have to read the lyrics to understand some of the things he says in the song.

# 7 –  Some Seek Stardom

The spiritual song is from the Blunted on Reality album. The song has a hip-hop, rap and pop sound. The healing song is about revering God and thinking about life and death. There aren’t too many rappers who sing inspirational songs about God. The song is also about not forgetting where you come from once you become famous. This track is Lauryn Hill’s chance to fly solo. This song gave her a chance to shine. She rapped the verses and sings parts of the chorus.

She has such star quality that it’s easy to forget that she’s in a group. She owned the song. It was a prelude to her Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album. She gave it her all with the song. She rhymed in time with the beat. She vocalized while she was singing. Her church background was very prevalent while she sang the chorus. Her vocals were rich and soulful. Her delivery was pretty good and you could forget that this track is from the group’s debut album. Jean and Michel supported Hill in the background of the track. Unfortunately the song doesn’t stand out the way their hit songs do, but it’s still pretty good. This is an underrated song but it’s definitely worth checking out.

# 6 – Vocab

The social song is from the Blunted on Reality album. The song has a hip-hop beat. The mysterious song has a myriad of meanings. They rap about a variety of things throughout the track. You would have to make your own judgment about the main meaning of the song. They rhyme over an acoustic guitar. Wyclef Jean proves he’s a talented musician as well as a rapper. His verse is legendary and proves why he’s a genius at creating hip-hop music. He did attempt to sing in the song and he should leave that to Lauryn Hill. He’s not known for his singing skills. Pras Michel gets his chance at the mic as well. His deep voice is perfectly suited for the beat.

He rapped in time with the beat. He has sharp skills on the mic. We saved the best for last. Lauryn Hill’s rhymes are dynamite. She could compete with any male or female MC in the game. She is absolutely gifted and deserves her flowers (giving her praise) while she’s still with us. She sounds incredible on the track. You could forget that this song is from their debut album. She is definitely the mic champ on this track. Jean and Michel did their thing, but this song belonged to Lauryn Hill. She was the MC champion on this song.

# 5 – Nappy Heads

The next song on our Top 10 Fugees Songs list is “Nappy Heads” from the Blunted on Reality album. It has a hip-hop sound. The dedication song is a tribute to African American heroes. They rap about what happened to African American leaders back in the day. They want to educate listeners about the heroes. The message is deep and is needed today. People need to know what happened to people back in the day. The title might mislead you into thinking the song is about something else. The music is perfect for the 90s but it’s timeless. The beat will get you out of your seat.

The music is just as good as the rhyming. The drumbeat in particular is fire. The trio gets their chance to spit at the mic. The all have fast flows so it might be a little hard to catch what they are saying. They all have great timing on the track. They rap in time with the beat. Jean sang the chorus. Hill should have sang the chorus. Speaking of Hill, she doesn’t have a big part in the song. She should have been in the song more. Her vocals are spectacular and she would have done an excellent job on the chorus. Michel did his thing on the track. The music was tailored to his voice.

# 4 – No Woman No Cry

The emotional song is from The Score album. It has a hip-hop beat. The encouraging song is about things getting better. The song implies that things will get better for everyone. The message is relevant today because people need to believe that things will get better. There are a lot of things going on in the world so this song would be appropriate today. “No Woman No Cry” is a cover of Bob Marley’s song of the same name. The Fugees changed some of the lyrics to make it their own, but the message is still the same. The music is a little faster than Marley’s version.

The Fugees song has more tempo in it, but the song is basically similar. Wyclef Jean flies solo on the track. He mixes hip-hop and reggae music. The song is perfect for his background. Jean comes from a reggae background so this song was in his wheelhouse. He sounds like he’s enjoying himself while he’s performing the song. He lets his accent shine throughout the track. You can’t help believing him when he says that everything is going to get better. He sounds convincing as he says it. This song is a standout for Jean.

# 3- Fu-Gee-La

The enigmatic song is from The Score album. The song has a hip-hop and reggae sound. The mysterious song talks about the struggles the trio has gone through. Like some of their other songs on the list, this song could have different meanings to different people. You would have to judge for yourself what you think the song means. The track features two samples. The song contains a sample from “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right” by Ramsey Lewis. It also contains a sample from Teena Marie’s “Ooo La La La.” The two songs are different, but they blend together nicely. We dare you to sit still while this impressive music is going.

It’s a perfect club banger and will have you on the floor dancing in no time. The beat can still be appreciated now and it was recorded years ago. It has a classic sound without being dated. Wyclef Jean starts the song with his catchy rhymes. Lauryn Hill sounds amazing covering Teena Marie’s song. Her rich and smoky vocals are the truth. Her church background is shining through when she sings the chorus. She proves she’s one of the best rappers male or female in the game. Pras Michel does a good job with his verse. Hill is definitely the champ on the song. She was ready for a fight and she won. It’s not a surprise this song was a hit for the trio because everything about it works.

# 2 – Ready or Not

The explosive song is from The Score album. The song has an r&b, reggae and hip-hop beat. The antagonistic song is about the trio having beef with certain people. They wanted to expose their rivals as not being who they say they are. Jean talks about people who would crumble if they had to go to prison. They would drop their tough persona quickly if they had to go to prison. Hill talks about her enemies who would rather be tough guys like Al Capone. She would rather be like socially aware people like Nina Simone. Pras talks about his friends threatening to blow up his enemies.

The track features two samples. The first sample is The Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love).” The second sample is Enya’s “Boadicea.” Here is some trivia about the song. Enya was prepared to sue The Fugees for using a sample of her song. She didn’t receive credit for her song being used. They ended up settling the case out of court when she realized they didn’t sing “gangsta” rap music. The samples made the music pop. The drumbeat is banging. The music is rhythmic and hypnotic. Jean’s wordplay will impress the listeners. Michel is a talented poet on the track. Hill is the standout performer once again. She sings the hook beautifully. The song gives her a chance to sing and rap. She is just as good a singer as she is a rapper. As we mentioned earlier, she could give any MC a run for their money. She is such a gifted entertainer because she can do it all.

# 1 – Killing Me Softly

The number one song on our Top 10 Fugees Songs list is “Killing Me Softly” from The Score album. The song has a hip-hop beat. The gorgeous song is about a woman who listens to a singer perform a song that reached her. She felt the person was able to see through her emotionally. This is the track that made The Fugees household names. This is their signature song and their award-winning song. It’s a cover of Roberta Flack’s version of the song. Here is some trivia about the song. Wyclef Jean didn’t think the song would be a hit. It’s hard to believe that he felt that way when this song went on to be their biggest hit.

The trio turned the r&b song into a hip-hop classic. They stripped the song down to just the drumbeat and the synthesizer. They kept the essence of Roberta Flack’s version. They added the rap verses to set it apart from Flack’s version. Let’s get to Hill’s vocals on this track. This song gives her a chance to shine brightly. Hill’s vocals are sensational on the song. Arguably, she sings the song just as good or better than Flack. Her rich and smoky voice is amazing. She’s able to perform run and she holds a note after the bridge that Flack doesn’t perform in her version.

Lauren Hill made this song her own. It would probably be impossible for Flack to sing this song without it being compared to this version of it. Flack’s version of the song is a masterpiece too, but this version took it to another stratosphere. It deserved to be number one on the charts and number one on our list.

Top 10 Fugees Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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