The Score (Fugees album)





The Score is the second and final studio album by the hip hop trio Fugees, released worldwide February 13, 1996 on Columbia Records. The album features a wide range of samples and instrumentation, with many aspects of alternative hip hop that would come to dominate the hip hop music scene in the mid-late 1990s. The Score's production was handled mostly by the Fugees themselves and Jerry Duplessis, with additional production from Salaam Remi, John Forté, Diamond D, and Shawn King. The album's guest raps are from Outsidaz members Rah Digga, Young Zee and Pacewon, as well as Omega, John Forté, and Diamond D. Most versions of the album feature four bonus tracks, including three remixes of "Fu-Gee-La", and a short acoustic Wyclef Jean solo track entitled "Mista Mista".

Upon its release, The Score was a commercial success, peaking at the number one spot on both the Billboard 200, and the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart (it was a number-one album on the latter in 1996 on the year-end chart). The singles "Killing Me Softly", "Fu-Gee-La", and "Ready or Not" also achieved notable chart success, and helped the group achieve worldwide recognition. On October 3, 1997, The Score was certified six times platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In addition to receiving mostly favorable reviews upon its release, the album has garnered a considerable amount of acclaim over the years, with many music critics and publications noting it as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. In 1998, the album was included in The Source's 100 best rap albums list, and in 2003, it was ranked number 477 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Background


The Score (Fugees album)

Although the Fugees' previous album Blunted on Reality proved to be critically and commercially unsuccessful, Christ Schwartz, head of Ruffhouse Records, decided to give the group another chance. In early 1995, he gave them a $135,000 advance and granted them complete artistic control for a follow-up album. The group used the money for recording equipment and set up a studio in Wyclef's uncle's basement, which they referred to as Booga Basement.

Recording for the album began in June 1995, and extended into November at what Wyclef described as a "relaxed pace" by stating "It was done calmly, almost unconsciously. There wasn't any pressure - it was like "let's make some music," and it just started forming into something amazing. It sounded like a feel-good hip hop record to us, and it was different than what anyone was doing at the time. It was three kids from an urban background expressing themselves."

In regards to The Score's unified themes and production, Lauryn commented "It's an audio film. It's like how radio was back in the 1940s. It tells a story, and there are cuts and breaks in the music. It's almost like a hip hop version of Tommy, like what The Who did for rock music."

Music



The Score was produced by a variety of producers including each member of the Fugees as well as Diamond D, Salaam Remi and Jerry Duplessis. Although most tracks are built on sampled melodies, live instrumentation and DJing are incorporated into multiple tracks. Wyclef Jean plays the guitar on "Family Business", while DJ Scribble scratches on "Manifest/Outro". Nevertheless, samples are the predominant production tool on The Score. "Fu-Gee-La" incorporates a sample of Teena Marie's "Ooh La La La", and is interpolated in the song's chorus. "Ready or Not" also contains a sample that is interpolated; "Ready or Not (Here I Come)" by The Delfonics. "Manifest/Outro" contains a sample from "Rock Dis Funky Joint" by Poor Righteous Teachers, while the title track contains vocal samples from every track on the entire album.

Three official singles were released in promotion of The Score, the first of which was "Fu-Gee-La". The single was released January 9, 1996 and peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and number 2 on the Hot Rap Songs chart. The song was produced by Salaam Remi and includes elements of "Ooo La La La" as performed by Teena Marie.

The second single, "Killing Me Softly" was released May 31, 1996. Proving to be the most successful single from the album, it instantly reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number one on the UK Singles Chart. Initially, the song was to be titled "Killing Them Softly", and though alluding to Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel's "Killing Me Softly with His Song", it was originally not intended to be a cover; however, the original writers refused permission for the rewrite of their song, but did allow the Fugees to do a cover version. In 1997, "Killing Me Softly" won the Fugees a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by Duo or group.

The third and final single released for the album was "Ready or Not", released September 2, 1996. The song was the least successful of all the singles from the album, only peaking at number 34 on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart. The track interpolates "Ready or Not, Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" as performed by The Delfonics, and also samples Enya's "Boadicea". Initially this sample was uncredited, and Enya was prepared to sue for copyright infringement, however decided not to when she discovered that the Fugees were not gangsta rappers. In a later interview, Fugees member Pras described the recording of "Ready or Not", stating "The three of us was each going through some pain. Lauryn was crying when she did her vocals. It was unbelievable. To see her singing with tears coming out of her eyes, it made me want to cry too."

Reception



Upon its release, The Score received positive reviews from most music critics. Entertainment Weekly writer James Bernard commented "What a shock: a smooth, well-produced rap album that doesn't have Dr. Dre's fingerprints on it [...] The Score showcases their acrobatic lyrical techniques and restless intelligence, and unlike much East Coast rap, The Score feels warm and intimate â€" partly because the instruments are live but also because the Fugees sound so relaxed and casual." Robert Christgau from The Village Voice called it "so beautiful and funny its courage could make you weep", and said the Fugees possess "black humanism" and "the gender-equality formula in which one girl learning equals two guys calling the shots". Steve Huey from Allmusic wrote that "Even when they're not relying on easily recognizable tunes, their original material is powered by a raft of indelible hooks [...] The Score balances intelligence and accessibility with an easy assurance, and ranks as one of the most distinctive hip-hop albums of its era." Cheo Hodari Coker from the Los Angeles Times wrote that "The Score succeeds on all counts", while the Fugees are as fluid a rap group since A Tribe Called Quest: "Their specialty is matching a gymnastic rhyme flow and rock-solid beats with expert crooning." Spin commented "A sense of organic interaction is the hallmark of this album [....] the album's most important factor is its beats; chest-shaking, obscure-texture-having, freestyle-friendly beats." Q described the album as "An impressively panoramic soundscape."

In a mixed review, Rolling Stone writer Ann Powers commented "The Fugees' roots in reggae gives them a solid base in song and a basic philosophy that's richer than the money-or-nothing ethic that dulls much of rap these days. Without being sanctimonious, The Score paints the ghetto as a mythical landscape, one that can inspire pride as well as sorrow. Like Wu-Tang Clan, the Fugees view the world as their movie, complete with stunts and special effects." Jon Pareles of The New York Times found the group's "vision of ghetto life" both eccentric and realistic, although he felt "Killing Me Softly" sounds "out of place amid the hard-nosed surrealism".

Track listing



Sample credits
  • "Ready or Not" contains samples of "Boadicea" by Enya, "God Made Me Funky" by The Headhunters, and an interpolation of "Ready or Not, Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by The Delfonics.
  • "Zealots" contains a sample of "I Only Have Eyes for You" by The Flamingos.
  • "The Beast" contains a sample of "God Made Me Funky" by The Headhunters.
  • "Fu-Gee-La" contains a sample of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" by Ramsey Lewis, and an interpolation of "Ooo La La La" by Teena Marie.
  • "Family Business" contains a sample of "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" by Francisco Tarrega, and "Gypsy Woman" by Joe Bataan (on the outro interlude).
  • "Killing Me Softly" covers "Killing Me Softly with His Song" by Roberta Flack, and contains samples of "Memory Band" by Rotary Connection, "Fool Yourself" by Little Feat, and "The Day Begins" by The Moody Blues (on the outro interlude).
  • "The Score" contains samples of "Dove" by Cymande, "My Melody" by Eric B. & Rakim, and "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa.
  • "Cowboys" contains a sample of "Something 'Bout Love" by The Main Ingredient.
  • "No Woman, No Cry" covers "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley & The Wailers.
  • "Manifest" contains a sample of "Rock Dis Funky Joint" by Poor Righteous Teachers.

Personnel



Charts



Awards



The Score earned the Fugees two Grammy Awards in 1996.

Accolades



  • Information regarding accolades is extracted from Acclaimedmusic.net,except for accolades with additional sources.
  • (*) Signifies unordered lists

See also



  • List of Billboard 200 number-one albums of 1996
  • List of Billboard number-one R&B albums of 1996
  • Billboard Year-End

Notes



References



  • Brian Coleman (2007). Check the Technique. Random House. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2. 
  • Chris Nickson (1999). Lauryn Hill: She's Got That Thing. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-97210-5. 
  • Leah Furman, Elina Furman (1999). Heart of Soul. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-43588-5. 
  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 

External links



  • The Score at Discogs
  • Article at Spin
  • Album Review at BBC Music
  • Album Review at RapReviews


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