Here's What's Going on; Fugees Are the New Conscience of Rap

By Samuels, Allison | Newsweek, April 15, 1996 | Go to article overview

Here's What's Going on; Fugees Are the New Conscience of Rap


Samuels, Allison, Newsweek


Welcome to Ghetto Town!" yelled Wyclef Jean of Fugees, on-stage at L.A.'s House of Blues. The date was April 1, the 12th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's death, and Wyclef played a verse or two of Gaye's consciousness-raising 1971 hit, "What's Going On." "Take a moment to remember him," Wyclef told the audience. "He's our history." After the warm-up, Fugee bandmates Lauryn Hill and Prakazrel Michel came onstage. "Fu-gee-la," the band's current single, was a slightly eerie take on Teena Marie's 1988 soul hit "Ooo La La La." Hill, the most powerful new voice in rap, elevated Roberta Flack's '70s classic "Killing Me Softly" into a modem street epic about lives gone wrong. The band closed with a regrooved version of John Lennon's "Imagine." History had become now.

Fugees' cunning combination of rap and R&B, of soul sentiment and urban blast, is not exactly revolutionary, but it's just the world needs right now. Their top 5 album "The Score" has gone gold; in one recan't, week it sold more copies than the band's 1993-debut, "Blunted on Reality," sold in three whole years. Maybe it's Hill's irresistibly cute looks-her fabulousness spills out all over the video for "Fu-gee-La." Maybe it's really time for an alternative to gangsta rap--one that avoids the wimpiness that brought down Arrested Development. Either way, from "Killing Me Softly" to sharp original like "The Score," Fugees are bringing something much needed to rap. …

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