Fugees Album titled “The Score” is one of the best hip hop albums of all time. I know – this review is coming late – 2017 to be exact – but I’d like to start writing more and reviewing my favorite albums. The mid 1990’s had a sound and energy that seems hard to duplicate – I’m happy I was a teenager in the late 1990’s because it seems to be the “golden age” of hip hop – an obviously highly contested statement in its own right.
On to the Fugees – from the moment the album starts you can hear the crispy high end and smooth bass of the Intro track. I think it does “set the stage” so to speak because many other tracks include similar elements.
The 2nd track, “How Many Mics” starts out with what sounds like an Elephant or an Ocean, or some strange industrial noise. Lauryn Hill kills the beat and lets you know this is the type of flow you can expect on the entire album. When the album first dropped, the “in your face” type of flow she has & the skilled delivery was definitely one of a kind. You can’t fake talent – you either have it or you don’t. I believe there is a story behind that – one of the behind the scenes types of stories – but the short story is basically Wyclef heard Lauryn’s voice and flat out knew she was a star after one second. Wyclef has a happy go lucky/Cynic/Good Vibes/Freestyle sort of vibe on this track and throughout the whole album. Pras seems to connect it all with a straight up hip hop flow filled with metaphors and similes. The snare is so crispy on this track, along with the Kick Drum and bass. Simple elements that are mixed so well are incredibly pleasing to my ears.
The 3rd track, “Ready or Not” is one of their commercial successes, with a full scale and expensive music video. The song actually samples Enya – which is the haunting background harmony – but Holy Moses it fits so well. There is an art to sampling. This track gets it right.
The 4th track, “Zealots” samples The Flamingos and captures that 1959 sound. Of course, this is sampling done right, as the beat is awesome
The 5th track, “The Beast,” has an interesting mix of percussion, bongos, and funny hook. It simply has a different vibe than most hip hop tracks you’ll hear – maybe mostly due to the well placed kicks and bongos.
The 6th track, Fu-Gee-La is what put the Fugees on the map due to the amazingly grimy beat, hip hop vibe, and sick flows. The guitar noise that slides down and up is truly an ear pleaser. This is a song you bump when you have a great car system.
The 7th track has a vinyl type of vibe because of the “scratchy” record sound – but this is mixed with what sounds like a Mexican guitar and hip hop beat. This is an aggressive hook with Lauryn Hill nicely mixed in; I like how they made use of her voice on the hook.
“Killing me Softly” is track 8 and is basically an instant classic. There’s not much else you need to know here; Lauryn Hill completely murders the entire song.
“The Score” is track 9 and has all the hip hop elements a hip hop head would expect. The elements combine nicely and they skillfully resample some of their own verses. It also sounds like someone is humming.
Track 10, “The Mask,” feels like a nice house party or conversation with all 3 artists. There’s some funny story telling here about Burger King and what not. They seem to be in full swag mode here.
Track 11, “Cowboys,” is a lot of fun as you can tell by the hook. They take an angle of Cowboys and Desperados on this one and it feels like an awesome smoke session. You’ve got that interesting guitar/Sitar noise here again, with what sounds like trumpets during parts of the song. The open hi hat and snare rolls keep everything glued together nicely.
Track 12 pays homage to Bob Marley and “No Woman No Cry.” I can actually remember hearing this as a teenager – I didn’t know what to make of it at first. The acoustic guitar is the bright shining star here because it’s a new spin on the old tune and keeps things moving happily along.
Track 13, “Manifest/Outro” uses the same guitar you heard in the Intro Track – it’s more sped up here in Track 13. Fans of Lauryn Hill will point out she murders this beat.
Track 14 remixes “Fu-Gee-La” as does Track 15. Track 14 has more of a laid back, chill vibe and track 15 has Reggae roots.
I am not sure what the final track represents.