Released in 1996 under the label of Columbia/Ruffhouse Records, The Score was the second and final studio album recorded by The Fugees and contained an assortment of choice hip-hop tracks and homages.
A cover of Roberta Flack’s 1973 chart topper, “Killing Me Softly” received a Grammy award and allowed Lauryn Hill to fully exhibit her stirring vocals . The second single released from the album, it emulated the original by reaching number one in 16 countries.
“Ready or Not” is another to benefit from sampling, this time using Enya’s Boadicea as a backdrop for verses and the Delfonics’ “Ready Or Not, Here I Come” during a pulsating chorus.
This time Hill demonstrates her prowess with the spoken word, unfurling a pinpoint delivery to elucidate why she was at one point widely regarded as the premier female rapper on the planet. With that said, it would be remiss to disregard the dynamic patter of band mates Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, both of whom feature heavily throughout the LP.
While those two compositions are probably the most easily recognised among non-Fugee patrons, there is much more to The Score than a couple of big hits.
“Cowboys” is energetic and thought provoking, “No Woman, No Cry” a satisfying cover (even though admittedly obedient to the Bob Marley original) and title track “The Score” combines a job lot of cuts from other parts of the album with a punctuation of bass guitar to provide an almighty dissonance.
Later versions of the album include the expletive drizzled “Mista Mista”, where Jean takes a pragmatic view of a homeless person who has abused the kindness of a stranger, including a string of “mother fuckers”, it varies between emotion and dark humour.
A string of adaptations of the original “Fu-gee-la” are also available on later issues of the album, with the global remix the pick of the bunch.
An exceptional release, “The Score” should have a place in the collection of any hip-hop habitué, serving as a valuable vestige to the pinnacle of the Fugees’ collaborative output.