The Score is an immortal hip-hop classic, and there has yet to be another album like it. 21 years ago today, The Score released in the U.S. and put the Fugees on as one of the most memorable hip-hop groups ever. The Score is a testament to old school hip-hop and the Fugees’ achievement as a group. The Score’s balance of skill, beats, and authenticity pushed the Fugees to legendary status and incredible success. It’s an unforgettable album, and it certainly earned its praise.
Sadly, The Score was the Fugees’ last album together, but the breakup seemed to arrive at a destined crossroads. Months before The Score received two Grammys for best rap album and best vocal performance, lead vocalist Lauryn Hill found out she was pregnant. In her absence, the Fugees’ other members, Michel Pras and Wyclef Jean, pursued solo careers and released albums of their own. Their label, Ruffhouse Records, also shut their doors a few years later in 1999.
The Score and the artists behind it were a first of their kind. Most distinctly, the Fugees were the first mixed-gender group in hip-hop. With Hill on the team, the Fugees formed an identity that both defied and embraced the traditional group dynamic. Through the ‘80s and 90s, hip-hop was mainly a team effort. In this way, acts like Sugarhill Gang, Run DMC and a Tribe Called Quest set a stage of sorts for the Fugees. The only other group with female talent then was Salt-N-Pepa, an all-female group. As a hip-hop trio, the Fugees were relatable and brand new at the same time.
In terms of production, The Score shows a remarkable blend of influences. If you’ve ever wondered why the album was so catchy, the answer could lie in the fact that almost every track samples or covers major hits from other artists. True to East coast form, The Fugees employed a classic method of sampling old school tracks, alluding to turntablism techniques so prominent at the time. Sometimes The Fugees took it a step further, and mixed totally opposite genres to create songs like “Ready or Not” and “Cowboys.” Below is a track by track listing of the main samples used in The Score.
Watch this video of @Vinrican mix each of the songs sampled on the record:
- “How Many Mics”- samples “Dreams” by Raymond Lewis (1975)
- “Ready or Not”- cross samples “Ready or Not,” first performed by the Delfonics in 1968, and Enya’s Celic synth riff from her song “Bodicea.” (1986)
- “Zealots”- samples “I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingos (1959)
- “Fu-Gee-La”- samples “If Loving You is Wrong I don’t Want to be Right” by Ramsey Lewis (1973) and covers the chorus of “Ooh la la” by Teena Marie (1986)
- “Family Business”- samples a classical guitar piece, “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” which was composed in 1896.
- “The Score”- samples “Dove” by Cymande (1972)
- “Cowboys”- samples “Memory Connection” by Rotary connection (1967) and captures Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” for the chorus (1973
- “No Woman No Cry”- Cover of Bob Marley’s single (1975)
Originally a skeptical sophomore project (with a budget of just $135,000), The Score became a multi-platinum monument, crowning Billboard’s charts for an entire month. After years of auditioning, recording, and distributing music- the Fugees were finally delivered by The Score to first place. In these 21 years past, each of the Fugees members has very lead different lives and acquired their own press accordingly. Jean sold millions of albums, Hill won nine Grammys, and Pras garnished a hit of his own with Ghetto Superstar. Through the years, each member has contributed their own insights regarding The Score in various interviews and memoirs. Hot 97 has released the latest compilation of reports on The Score in a mini-documentary this year. See the video here: