Throwback Review: “The Score” by The Fugees

The Fugees final album, “The Score” is a wonderful example of 90’s rap and hip hop

Gabe Santos, Arts and Entertainment Editor

February is host to many significant album releases, but for this throwback review, we at the Messenger thought February 13th, 1996’s “The Score” by Fugees was the best pick. The final album by the trio of Wyclef Jean, Pras Micheal, and the one of a kind visionary Lauryn Hill, this encapsulation of 90’s rap is mixed with conscious tones and R&B influences to come out as a milestone in music.

Production, as any hip-hop head will agree, is extremely important to the genre, and in the 90’s it was having a renaissance. This particular album by the New Jersey native takes on a distinct East Coast sound. Heavy drums, deep bass, and largely dark tones aren’t the only production stylings present here though. There are guitar lead songs as well as a reggae inspired track, “No Woman No Cry” which leads to a unique, interesting listen. Particularly, I found the production on “Zealots”, and “Fu-Gee-La” to be memorable.

Vocally, performance by all three is stellar, but Lauryn Hill clearly takes center stage. Lauryn, who takes on an R&B/Soul range, not only has luxurious vocals on the more melodic songs of the album, but as well has a powerful rapping tone, and a great flow. Her delivery, accompanied by her compatriots’ deep voices and thick accents, gives the lyrics increased importance. Iconic Neo-soul ballad “Killing Me Softly with His Song” is the shining gem in the crown here by far, and rapping wise, “The Mask” captures the voice of the generation and boasts the best delivery in my opinion.

With all this being said, lyrics are absolutely the most important element of the album, bar none. The concept album has amazing storytelling, rhyme schemes, and memorable writing front to back.  Fugees roots in reggae gives them a philosophical conscious edge that made them stand out. The album is at one moment about love and the next a call to action against injustice, and it executes the transition to perfection. Previously mentioned “Zealots”, “The Mask”, and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” are the stars in this category, but it’s worth saying, these are the best of a masterful collection, in which there is no song that isn’t a highlight.

The album would be received extremely well, and would be nominated for 2 respective “Album If The Year Awards” and would win the “Best Rap Album” at the Grammy award ceremony of 1997. To this day, “The Score” is a fantastic romp through protest, feminism, love, and the mid-90’s. A must listen in every sense.