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by Jenina Singh, Entertainment writer

 

The single, which is said to have had limited success, seems to refer to almost every cultural and political issue, from freedom, equality, and stealing music to beggars, Malcolm X, and the Klu Klux Klan. “Fruits of freedom, equality, invest you money properly, people own me, apology, intellectual property, stealing, stolen commodity,” is one of the very direct and culturally opinionated lyrics from “Take It Easy.” Another is, “I’d rather kill myself, become a ghost, and write for myself, cause I’m the top celebrity, I flow for the thugs, gypsies, and hippies, a ghetto maestro with a Nat Turner flow, Malcolm X come out, hit the Klu Klux Show.”

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Wyclef Jean, one of the band’s producer/writer/vocalists, explained that the forthcoming album is a compilation of the band getting back to “its core.” Much of the style, he said, would be similar to its first record, “Mona Lisa/Nappy Heads,” which was a huge success in New York City. Jean ended the interview stating: “You’ve got three individuals who have grown musically. But we’re always on the same page–that’s the magic of the Fugees.”

Ten years ago Lauren Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel pioneered a new style of hip-hop. Their music, a blend of history, heritage, and the frustrations of young black Americans, struck a strong chord with many African Americans. Far from the drug use, gang brawls, and hostility towards law enforcement that contributed to the lyrics of many hip-hop artists in 1996, this group expressed a far more sophisticated social and political message. Their clearly distinctive voice, despite the raw nature of the lyrics, made the Fugees clearly representative of street mic poets. Lyrics from the “Zealots” track from The Score explain the Fugees view of their style: “Abstract raps, simple with a street format.”

Many of the lyrics on The Score album express the artists’ frustrations with other rappers who don’t make their own genuine music.

Although it will be difficult to follow such a ground-breaking collection of tracks, it is the Fugees that are best fit for such a challenge. After all, they say: “Before black, I’m first human, appetite to write like Frederick Douglass with a slave hand.”
 
 

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