Monday, 8 March 2010

Albums That Shaped My Life: The Score by The Fugees

In 1996 I saw Lauryn Hill on Top of the Pops singing Killing Me Softly. I was mesmerised by her plaintive vocals, the beautiful lyrics and the beats. I didn’t know at the time that it was a cover, so I must now give proper credit to Lori Lieberman for her heart-breaking poetry. Yet Hill brought an unmistakeable freshness and funk to it that keeps it lodged in my soul to this day.

Although I loved the song it wasn’t enough to make me go and buy The Fugees album. I’m not a fan of American hip hop. I can just about handle (some) British hip hop, but stateside I just find it too misogynistic, and tales of guns and bling impossible to relate to. But then I heard Ready or Not and again Ms Hill brought something different to the mix that finally hooked me in.

Once I had brought the album I realised how much I had been missing. It’s funky, it’s funny and while I had previously only seen Hill as just a soulful diva, the album showed me she was a butt-kicking rapper too. I loved the way she wasn’t afraid to hold a mirror up to the scene she came from, directly challenging their attitudes and behaviour (So after all my logic and my theory/I add a mother fucker so you ignorant niggers hear me).

And while other hip-hop groups were busy singing about bitches and ‘hoes, The Fugees were tackling race and politics head on in tunes like The Beast; they challenged gang black on black crime in The Score; and drug abuse in Mista Mista.

I went on to love and adore Hill’s solo album, the multi Grammy winning Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. But as amazing as that album is, it doesn’t have the rawness of The Score. The Fugees created an album that changed my perceptions about American hip-hop forever.

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