The Score (Fugees album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||February 13, 1996|
|Singles from The Score|
The Score is the second and final studio album by the hip hop trio Fugees. The Score was released worldwide on 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. Primarily, The Score's production was handled by the Fugees themselves, Jerry Duplessis and Warren Riker, with additional production from Salaam Remi, John Forté, Diamond D, and Shawn King. The album's guest verses 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. As of February 2021, The Score has been certified seven times platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With an estimated 22 million copies sold worldwide, the album has become one of the best-selling albums of all time, and is the best selling album by a hip hop group. In addition to receiving mostly favorable reviews upon its release, The Score 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 Score was included in The Source's 100 best rap albums list, and in 2020, the album was ranked number 134 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The Score was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, becoming the second rap album to receive a nomination and the first for a hip hop group, while winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, along with Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Killing Me Softly" at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards.
Although the Fugees' previous album, Blunted on Reality proved to be critically and commercially unsuccessful, Chris Schwartz, the 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 Jean's uncle's basement, which they referred to as the Booga Basement.
Recording for the album began in June 1995, and extended into November 1995 at what Jean described as a, "relaxed pace... 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 regard to The Score's unified themes and production, Lauryn Hill 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."
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, "Red Intro" 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", which was released on 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. "Fu-Gee-La" 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 on May 31, 1996. "Killing Me Softly" proved to be the most successful single from the album, as it instantly reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, 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 from the album was "Ready or Not", which was released on September 2, 1996. In the US the song was the least successful of all the singles from the album, only peaking at number 34 on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart. It found far more success in Europe, especially in the UK where it became their second number 1 in the Official Singles Chart, staying at the top for two weeks. 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, but 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."
|Christgau's Consumer Guide||A|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Upon its release, The Score received critical acclaim. 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 — partly because the instruments are live but also because the Fugees sound so relaxed and casual." Robert Christgau from The Village Voice called The Score "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."
However, 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".
|1997||Soul Train Music Awards||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Rap Album||Won|
- Information regarding accolades is extracted from Acclaimedmusic.net,except for accolades with additional sources.
- (*) Signifies unordered lists
|About.com||United States||100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums||2008||18|
|Best Rap Albums of 1996||2008||5|
|BigO||Singapore||Albums of the Year||1996||34|
|Blender||United States||500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die||2003||*|
|Ego Trip||hip-hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–98||1999||5|
|Elvis Costello||United Kingdom||500 Albums You Need||2000||*|
|Expressen||Sweden||The 100 Best Records Ever||1999||100|
|Eye Weekly||Canada||Albums of the Year||1996||15|
|Face||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||1|
|Helsingin Sanomat||Finland||50th Anniversary of Rock||2004||*|
|Hip-Hop Connection||United Kingdom||The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995–2005||2005||15|
|Juice||Australia||The 100 (+34) Greatest Albums of the 90s||1999||64|
|Mixmag||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||2|
|Mojo||Albums of the Year||1996||15|
|The Mojo Collection (3rd and/or 4th Edition)||03/07||*|
|Muzik||Albums of the Year||1996||3|
|The New Nation||Top 100 Albums by Black Artists||2005||34|
|NME||United States||1996 Crits Poll||1996||22|
|United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||22|
|Nude as the News||United States||The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s||1999||97|
|OOR||Netherlands||Albums of the Year||1996||38|
|Pause & Play||United States||The 90s Top 100 Essential Albums||1999||11|
|Plásticos y Decibelios||Spain||The 80 Best Albums of All Time||2000||68|
|Pop||Sweden||Albums of the Year||1996||1|
|Pure Pop||Mexico||Albums of the Year||1996||10|
|Q||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||*|
|90 best Albums of the 90s||1999||*|
|Record Collector||10 Classic Albums from 21 Genres for the 21st Century||2000||*|
|Robert Dimery||United States||1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||2005||*|
|Rock Sound||France||Albums of the Year||1996||24|
|Rolling Stone||United States||Albums of the Year||1996||10|
|The Essential Recordings of the 90s||1999||*|
|100 Best Albums of the Nineties||2011||44|
|The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time||2012||469|
|The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time||2020|
|The Source||100 Best Rap Albums||1998||*|
|The Critics Top 100 Black Music Albums of All Time||2006||34|
|Spex||Germany||Albums of the Year||1996||41|
|Spin||United States||20 Best Albums of '96||1996||2|
|Top 90 Albums of the 90s||1999||17|
|Tom Moon||1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die||2008||*|
|Various Writers||Albums: 50 Years of Great Recordings||2005||*|
|Vibe||100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century||1999||*|
|The Village Voice||Albums of the Year||1996||2|
|Vox||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||15|
|VPRO||Netherlands||299 Nominations of the Best Album of All Time||2006||*|
|Yediot Ahonot||Israel||Top 99 Albums of All Time||1999||74|
|2.||"How Many Mics"||4:28|
|3.||"Ready or Not"||3:47|
|7.||"Family Business" (featuring John Forté and Omega)||5:43|
|8.||"Killing Me Softly"||4:58|
|9.||"The Score" (featuring Diamond D)||5:02|
|11.||"Cowboys" (featuring Pace 1, Young Zee and Rah Digga)||5:23|
|12.||"No Woman, No Cry"||Vincent Ford||4:33|
|14.||"Fu-Gee-La" (Refugee Camp remix featuring John Forté)||4:22|
|15.||"Fu-Gee-La" (Sly & Robbie mix)||Handel Tucker||5:27|
|17.||"Fu-Gee-La" (Refugee Camp global mix featuring John Forté)||4:20|
- ^[a] signifies a co-producer.
- Interludes performed by Talent, Wil Shannon Briggs and Ras Baraka.
- Intro performed by Red Alert and Ras Baraka.
- Outro performed by Red Alert.
- "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 Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, 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, "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa, and "Scorpio" by Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band (on the outro interlude).
- "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.
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum||50,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||5× Platinum||500,000^|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||4× Platinum||80,000|
|Germany (BVMI)||3× Gold||750,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Gold||25,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||2× Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||5× Platinum||1,500,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||7× Platinum||7,000,000|
|Europe (IFPI)||6× Platinum||6,000,000*|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
- Album era
- List of Billboard 200 number-one albums of 1996
- List of Billboard number-one R&B albums of 1996
- Billboard Year-End
- List of hip-hop albums considered to be influential
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