Ready or Not (Fugees song)

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"Ready or Not"
Single by Fugees
from the album The Score
ReleasedAugust 29, 1996
FormatCD single
GenreHip hop, R&B
Songwriter(s)Nelust Wyclef Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, William Hart, Thomas Bell, Enya, Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan
Producer(s)Nelust Wyclef Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, Jerry Duplessis
Fugees singles chronology
"Killing Me Softly"
"Ready or Not"
"No Woman, No Cry"
Audio sample
Music video
"Ready or Not" on YouTube

"Ready or Not" is a song by the American hip hop group Fugees, from their second studio album The Score (1996). The song contains a sample of "Boadicea" from Enya (1987) by Irish singer Enya, and its chorus is based on "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by The Delfonics. While "Ready or Not" was a minor hit in the Fugees' native United States, the song was most successful in Europe, particularly in Iceland and the United Kingdom, where it topped the charts. It remained at that position for two weeks, becoming their second chart-topping single of 1996 in Britain, following "Killing Me Softly".[1] Enya was prepared to sue the group for copyright infringement, because she had not permitted the group to sample "Boadicea". She eventually settled out of court.

Barack Obama listed this as his favorite song.[2] The song is used in the first theatrical trailer of the film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.[3]


The song contains a sample of "Boadicea" by New-Age singer Enya from her first solo album, Enya (1987). Enya considered suing the Fugees because they had sampled "Boadicea" without her permission.[4] She stated, "We were actually on the verge of suing them because of the copyright infringement, because they just didn't approach us. It was a case of, I wasn't featured at all on the credits and it [the sample] was very much a part of the song."[5] However, the singer reached an agreement with Fugees to an a out-of-court settlement after she realized that their music wasn't gangsta rap.[4] According to Wyclef, "Luckily when Enya heard everything, she was like, ‘This is different’ and she gave us a pass – which she don’t even need to do."[6] The situation was a learning experience for the group, who at the time were unaware of copyright clearance and unfamiliar with publishing procedures.[6]

The song's chorus is based on "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by The Delfonics, which was an addition suggested by member Wyclef Jean.[7] Reflecting on the recording process, Pras said: "At one point, the group had disbanded. [Lauryn Hill] had left the group at this point and we didn't know what we were going to do. She calls me and says, 'Listen, I'm going to come down to the studio and I'm going to lay down a reference for you guys, a hook. I give you permission to use my hook, my voice, but I don't want to be a part of this group anymore.' I said, 'Fair enough. No problem.' She said, 'Make sure certain people are not around when I'm there.' I said, 'No problem.' She's laying the reference for 'Ready Or Not' and then she goes into the bridge and she's crying. I see her crying. She stops and says, 'I can't do this anymore,' and leaves. A couple months later she re-joins the group. She said, 'Let's do 'Ready or Not' again 'cause I was crying. It was emotional.' She goes in the studio to do 'Ready Or Not' again. She was in there five hours doing the hook. Every hit is incredible. But we go back and say, 'There's something about that reference. I don't know if we can touch that.' We end up keeping the reference. That's what the world has come to hear. There's something about that record… That's magic."[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Spin described the song as "an eerily ambient flow of confused musings (Jean), confident harmonies (Hill), and immigrant pride (Michel), tapped insistently into your consciousness by a simple snare beat."[9] Larry Flick of Billboard wrote the song was "far more representative of the act's vibe", and that "this cut nicely illustrates its lyrical strength as well as its talent for switching from smooth soul singing to sharp rapping within the space of a few seconds."[10]

Music video[edit]

Vibe reported that the Fugees' "Ready or Not" video helped usher in the era of bank-breaking, movie-like hip hop videos. The video featured helicopters, explosions, sharks, chase scenes, and a price tag of 1.3 million US dollars. In justifying the cost, Pras told Vibe "People want to see drama, man. You figure: A kid pays sixteen dollars for your CD. Let him see a good video." [11]

Other versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]


  1. "Ready or Not" (radio version) – 3:47
  2. "Ready or Not" (Salaam's Ready for the Show Remix) – 4:24
  3. "Ready or Not" (Handel's Yaard Vibe Mix) – 4:41
  4. "The Score" – 4:32


  1. "Ready or Not" (album version) – 3:50
  2. "How Many Mics" – 4:23
  3. "Freestyle" – 5:03
  4. "Blame It on the Sun" – 5:41



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ The Fugees UK chart info Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  2. ^ Coplon, Jon. "White House DJ Battle". Archived from the original on March 27, 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  3. ^ "Mission Impossible 5 - Rogue Nation | official trailer (2015) Tom Cruise M:i 5". moviemanicsDE channel on YouTube. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Rolling Stone. 20 Great Albums Turning 20 in 2016. Rolling Stone. 2016-01-12. Retrieved on 2016-03-27.
  5. ^ Ness, Jimmy (June 20, 2016). "A Conversation With Enya About Sampling, The Nature Of Fame, And How To Control Your Career". Forbes. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Williams, Marcel (2017-08-31). "Wyclef Jean Breaks Down His Biggest Records & Reveals How "The Score" Was Almost Shelved". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  7. ^ "Fugees Producer Jerry Wonder Talks About The 16th Anniversary of "The Score"". Complex. February 14, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  8. ^ Ramirez, Erika (March 31, 2014). "Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop". Billboard. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Year in Music - Band of the Year". Spin: 54. January 1997. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  10. ^ Flick, Larry (August 24, 1996). "Singles". Billboard: 113. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  11. ^ Gimme the Loot Vibe, February 1998
  12. ^ The Course UK chart info Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  13. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  14. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  15. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 9117." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  18. ^ "Fugees: Ready or Not" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  19. ^ " – Fugees Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  20. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (NR. 171 Vikuna 25.5. - 30.5. '96)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Fugees" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  22. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not". Top 40 Singles.
  23. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not". VG-lista.
  24. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  25. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not". Singles Top 100.
  26. ^ " – Fugees – Ready or Not". Swiss Singles Chart.
  27. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  28. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
  29. ^ "Fugees Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay)". Billboard.
  30. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  31. ^ "End of Year Charts 1996". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  32. ^ "British single certifications – Fugees – Killing Me Softly". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Killing Me Softly in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]