February 08, 2014

The Fugees Interview (Hip-Hop Connection, 1994)

"The Fugees are an unusual phenomenon in rap... The reality is the Fugees don't smoke doobies, in fact they're quite proud to proclaim that they are happily drug-free... "The album's called Blunted On Reality, but to see what's going on around you in a blunted mindset you don't necessarily need to smoke blunts. The music, our music, can put you in that frame of mind," says Wyclef Jean, one third of the four-year old rap ensemble... Signed to Ruffhouse, the Fugees are all New York based and, while harboring ideas of rap stardom, two of the group are attending university. Lauryn at Columbia, studying journalism, and third member Pras at Rutgers, though he quickly points out he's currently on hiatus. The name Fugees is derived from the fact that Wyclef and Pras are both Haitians. Their aim is to educate Americans about the complex culture of their land of origin, and show that Haitians aren't just those 'boat people' or 'refugees,' we always seem to be bombarded with by the media. Together with Lauryn (who, incidentally can be seen in Sister Act 2), they have produced an intelligent mix of hip-hop philosophy, with ruffneck, ragga and funky undertones."

"Our music is a paradoxical thing. We blend soft and hardcore elements into our music. A bit like making a salad, where you add lots of different bits to produce a unique flavor. What we end up with is an ever changing sound that is universal," says Pras, as he tries to snatch a yo-yo from Clef's constantly bobbing hand. "If people want to call us alternative, that's fine. All I know is we rock at our shows, and that's all that matters." The Fugees are, like Digable Planets, part of that new breed of rap act, where the female emcees are just as prominent as the male rappers, where the sisters are allowed to let rip on equal footing as the boys and command utmost respect. "I met Pras at school and he hooked me up with Clef. I was singing when they met me, and even though they were doing rap and I wasn't really rocking like I could, I joined them. I was into soul, jazz and hip-hop. I really came into my own lyrically and vocally," explains Lauryn. "There's no gender rivalry within this group. Either I rock with the kids or I don't!" - Hip-Hop Connection, 1994 (more below).