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The Score

by The Fugees

Released February 13, 1996 via Columbia Records

Reviewed February 17, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Ready Or Not (62%), Killing Me Softly With His Song (57%), Fu-Gee-La (48%)

While 90’s hip-hop was being dominated by cinematically gritty gangster rap, The Fugees helped shift the focal point of the genre into a more widely palatable sector. The Score consists of simple and undeniably groovy instrumentals, unlabored “conscious rap” subject matter, catchy R&B-inspired melodies, and, above all else, Lauryn Hill’s coming out. Wyclef Jean and Pras’s performances aren’t disappointing by any stretch of the word—and without Jean’s vision, it’s possible The Score would never have come to fruition—but Hill clearly had a far more engaged dog in the fight. The title track is a great example, with Wyclef and Pras offering clever punchlines, but as is so often on this album, Lauryn Hill explodes with a verse that seems to have its barrel aimed at every male counterpart in the game (including her co-hosts). While The Score might as well be considered a Lauryn Hill album, the Fugees put together a great debut of all the members’ talents, and it is appropriately revered in the timeline of hip-hop. – Pax (9.2/10)

On “Ready or Not,” Lauryn Hill raps, “While you imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone.” There’s no more accurate way to describe The Score, The Fugees’ magnum opus, than that line. In a sea of mafioso rap, The Fugees stood out like a sore thumb. The Score held raps from Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras that were strong enough to contend with anyone else from their era. But what made it unique is that it still managed to incorporate genres like soul and reggae—through Lauryn and Wyclef’s non-rap contributions, respectively. Aside from the standard braggadocio that makes up most of the lyrics, a highlight of the trio is their ability to delve into social themes. Even if Lauryn steals the show, there’s no question as to why The Score is one of the most iconic albums of the ‘90s and a staple of alternative hip-hop. – Alan (8.5/10)

Hip-hop always needs a change of pace. Trends get commodified and manufactured, only to continually misrepresent rap on music’s greatest stages. That is, until talent the caliber of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras arise to snatch the spotlight. The Score represents that very moment, permanently captivating the hearts and minds of music lovers across mainstream and underground markets. Between Wyclef’s wide imagination and Lauryn’s laser-like exposition, they combine to cover immense ground quickly as lead writers, performers, and producers of the album. – DeVán (8/10)

Pax: 9.2/10 | Jared: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.7/10 | Alan: 8.5/10 | Cam: 8.5/10

Enth: 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10 | DeVán: 8/10


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