The Fugees are an American music group, popular during the mid-1990s, whose repertoire includes primarily hip hop, with elements of soul, and Caribbean music (particularly reggae). The members of the group are leader/rapper/producer Wyclef Jean, rapper/singer Lauryn Hill, and rapper Pras Michel. Both Jean and Michel are of Haitian heritage; Hill is an African American native of South Orange, New Jersey. Deriving their name from the term “refugee”, the group is noted for the integration of soul and reggae into their work, and recorded two albums—one of which, The Score, was a multi-platinum and Grammy-winning success—before going their separate ways after 1997. Hill and Jean each went on to successful solo recording careers, while Michel focused mainly on soundtrack recordings and acting.
The trio released their first LP, Blunted on Reality, after a long period of performing, but the album failed to live up the expectations of fans who attended their concerts. Despite the relative failure of their first album, The Score became one of the biggest hits of 1996 . The Fugees were known for their unusual choice of covers and sampling sources on both albums; The Score, for example, included covers of “No Woman No Cry” (Bob Marley & the Wailers) and “Killing Me Softly (With His Song)” (Roberta Flack), which was their biggest pop hit. The album also included a re-interpretation of The Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love)” in their hit single “Ready or Not” which used a sample from Boadicea by Enya without her permission. This prompted a lawsuit resulting in a settlement where Enya was given credit and royalties for her sample. The Fugees won two 1997 Grammy Awards: The Score won for Best Rap Album, and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” won for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or group also recorded a cover of the rock band Queen’s hit Bohemian Rhapsody,although it garnered much criticism.
After 1997, the Fugees all began solo projects. Hill started work on her critically acclaimed The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Jean began producing for a number of artists (including Destiny’s Child and Carlos Santana) and recorded his debut album The Carnival. Michel, with Mya and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, recorded the single “Ghetto Supastar” for the soundtrack to the Warren Beatty/Halle Berry film Bulworth. After each member found success in other ventures, the Fugees failed to reform. Though the Fugees remain tight-lipped about the exact reasons, most fans believe that a serious personality conflict between Hill and Jean contributed to the breakup following The Score.