Comprising Wyclef Jean, his cousin Pras, and Lauryn Hill, The Fugees became the most successful crossover rap outfit of the 90s with 1996's bestselling The Score. Originally signed to Ruffhouse Records in 1992 as the Tranzlator Crew, their new name was a shortened version of Refugees (inspired by Wyclef and Pras' Haitian backgrounds). The Fugees' style combines dry, cushioning beats with clever, rhythmic wordplay. All three members rap over acoustic guitars, as well as more upbeat numbers informed by dub and reggae, both modes in which they excel. The sound was not exactly unfamiliar, and the title of their 1994 debut album, Blunted On Reality, seemed to suggest they were coming from a similar direction to Cypress Hill and Digable Planets. All three members professed to be non-users, however, indicating that the album title signified their belief that they did not need to smoke the weed to induce a state of heightened perception and relaxation. Similarly, the lyrical concerns on the album were somewhat different, as might be expected of a crew where the majority of members also attended university courses. Some of their targets included America's perception of Haitians as 'Boat People' (Pras stated his intention to return to Haiti, using profits from his music to help build schools and decent roads on the island) and their own mixed gender status.
The magnificent follow-up, The Score, was one of the musical highlights of 1996 and proved accessible enough to bring their soulful jazz-rap to a wider market. 'Ready Or Not' and reworkings of 'Killing Me Softly' (Roberta Flack) and 'No Woman No Cry' (Bob Marley) were all international hit singles, and the album achieved multi-platinum worldwide success. Hill's pregnancy meant the trio was largely inactive during 1997, with Wyclef Jean taking the time to release a solo album. Pras and Hill also embarked on solo careers, with the latter's 1998 debut The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill enjoying huge critical and commercial success. The three Fugees reunited for a European tour in 2005.
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