Friday, September 26, 2014
Fugees – “Fu-Gee-La (Refugee Camp Remix)” from The Complete Score (1996 Ruffhouse)


Here’s what I think – most versions of the groundbreaking sophomore album The Score don’t contain this remixed version of “Fu-Gee-La,” appearing as it did on various singles and imports and, as noted above, the 2xCD The Complete Score. So that’s kind of confusing.

But here’s something else that seems real confusing looking back at the Fugees now. This song (and, if memory serves, a lot of this album), makes it sound like the Fugees were running around the greater New York metroplitan area with guns at their hips, like all the time. I’m not saying they weren’t clever with it — Wyclef Jean, for example, taunts a”hero wannabe” in the first verse: my pistol nozzle hits your nasal / doo doo comes out your anal. To be fair, John Forte, Lauryn Hill, and Pras all offer up verses that tend far more towards standard battle rap fare than straight up street violence, but then Wyclef comes back again to close things out with gun by my side just in case I gotta rump.

And you know, I don’t know dude’s whole life, but do we have any indication that Wyclef Jean was ever running around with a gun by his side just in case? Isn’t this the same dude who just tried to run for president in 2010? It’s well understood that there are exactly zero musicians who are afraid of being called out by the Shuffler for acts of inauthenticity, but I would like to know what Wyclef was thinking.

It’s a great track otherwise, and, despite my aforementioned reservations, I do think that the confontational lyrics really worked. The Fugees were full of youthful energy and bravado. The Score really put them on the map, too, given that it sold millions of copies (as compared to 1994’s Blunted on Reality, which sold only 130,000 copies). Lauryn Hill’s chorus is, as you might imagine, smooth as butter and a total earworm. One listen and you’ll be singing “ooh la la la” for the rest of the day.

As a sort of ancillary note, I watched a documentary earlier this week that followed Pras on a 9-day odyssey in Los Angeles’ Skid Row in 2007. Experiments in pretend poverty are sort of inherently problematic, but even so, it’s worth watching.

And isn’t Lauryn back, too?