The Fugees were a sensation when they first arrived on the hip hop scene in the early 1990s. Comprised of Lauryn Hill, Michel Pras and Wyclef Jean, the trio are often considered one of the most impactful alternative-hip hop groups of all time.
Formed in Maplewood, New Jersey, where Hill and Pras went to high school, Pras suggested that his cousin, Wyclef Jean become part of the group, which initially began as a band. Originally performing as The Tranzlator Crew, the band included Johnny Wise on drums, Ti Bass on guitar, and DJ Leon.
In 1993, having played concerts and built a buzz locally in both New Jersey and New York, the group signed with the label Ruffhouse. Ready to record their debut album but feeling like The Tranzlator Crew would be hard to market, the group ended up changing their name to The Fugees, a diminutive of The Refugees. This was in reference to many of the Haitian refugees who were fleeing to New York in the ’90s. Both Pras and Wyclef were from a Haitian family.
The crew’s 1994 debut album, Blunted on Reality, did not perform well commercially, and all the members have said in hindsight that they were still finding themselves creatively at the time of its release. The album’s content and sound were restricted by the producers according to the members, and it was not true to them in any way.
Going back to the drawing board, The Fugees then recorded The Score. The 1996 album was a global hit and is still loved by many. With songs such as ‘No Woman No Cry’ and ‘Killing Me Softly’, The Score debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and number two on the UK Albums Chart. One of the most popular songs of the album, however, is ‘Ready Or Not’.
‘Ready Or Not’ interpolates ‘Ready or Not, Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)’ by The Delfonics, and went to number one on the UK SIngles Charts. Recorded at Ruffhouse studios earlier that year, the track was certified Platinum in the UK and in the United States by the end of 1996.
With so many hits on the album, The Score went on to win two Grammys at the 1997 Grammy awards, for ‘Best Rap Album’ and for ‘Best R’n’B Vocal Performance by Duo or Group’. Released on February 13th, 1996, it is the second-highest-selling hip hop album of all time. You can hear the acapella for ‘Ready Or Not’ below.