Tuesday, September 15, 2009

477- The Score- I’d call it a draw.

Album: The Score.

Artist: The Fugees.


Genre: Pop/R and B


1. Red Intro
2. How Many Mics
3. Ready or Not
4. Zealots
5. Beast
6. Fu-Gee-La
7. Family Business
8. Killing Me Softly
9. Score
10. Mask
11. Cowboys
12. No Woman, No Cry
13. Manifest/Outro
14. Fu-Gee-La [Refugee Camp Remix][*]
15. Fu-Gee-La [Sly & Robbie Mix][*]
16. Mista Mista

I’ve recently started paying a lot more attention to lyrics. For some reason a few of the albums I’ve listened to lately have had me dedicating time to lyric sheets in order to check out exactly what’s going through the artists head. Often this has provided a real insight into the minds of the creators. With the Fugees... not so much.

I haven’t a clue what the hell these people are on about. What does this mean: “How Many Mic's Do We Rip on the Daily/Say me say Many Moni, Say me say many many many

What on earth is going there? I have no idea what I’m missing but whatever it is I’m missing it by many, many, many miles. More baffling still is this gem from later in the album: “I’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone”. What? Did Nina Simone do that often? I never saw her live but I’m reasonably sure that the finale of her stage act didn’t involve a dropping of the drawers and the creation of some self-styled Mic cable. It’s definitely the sort of thing that would have entered popular culture and we’d all think El Nina weather patterns were a lot more hilarious.

Name checking is a huge part of this album. The Fugees love a good name check. I’ve scoured the lyrics to The Score and can provide you with a list of call-outs which I’ve arranged in helpful categories...

Historical Figures: Elliot Ness, Al Capone, Kennedy (either one), Rockwell, Mussolini (described as “the great” which is a bold political statement), Hannibal (the elephants-over-the-alps one not the gets-less-scary-every-new-movie one), Jesse James, Nostradamus (I bet he didn’t see that coming) and Cassius Clay.

Musicians: Seal (unless they’re referring to the animal), Tracy Chapman, Eurythmics, Carlos Santana, Pete Tosh, Marley (Bob presumably), Cindi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Biggie Smalls, Sheena Easton and Nina Simone (who has probably been namechecked in a song before but never with the word “defecate” in the same line).

Actors: John Travolta, Dick Van Dyke, Alec Baldwin, John Wayne, Lee Van Cleef, Jim Carrey, Za Za Gabor (tell me that’s not a movie cast you’d like to see)

Religious figures: God, Jesus Christ, Satan, Mother Mary, Haile Saleassie, Paul McCartney, Mephistopholes.

Contemporary figures: Newt Gingrich (who “sucks dick” apparently), Bill Clinton, David Sonenberg (the Fugees manager, I had to look him up), Connie Chung, Rodney (King presumably), Judge Ito (the judge in the OJ Simpson trial), Farakkhan (Louis presumably, unless there are other Farakkhans I’m unaware of) and Khalid Muhammad (who was a guy who kicked around with Louis Farrkahn, I had to look him up too)

Fictional characters: “Love Doctor strange” (who I’m assuming is Dr Strangelove), Porgy and Bess, Damocles, The Phantom of the opera, Dr Kimble, Chewbacca, Batman and Blackula (again that’s a movie I’d like to see: it’s got heroes, villains, wookies and songs, what more could you want?)

And finally people I’d never heard of: Alice, Stevie, Khalid Muhammad, , Frederick Douglass, Tommy Motolla, Menudo, Hajj Malik Shabazz, Tall Kid Mutombo, Alex Haley, Chaka Demus and Pliars, , Trugoy, Rashida, Chicken George (who became dead George) and Buju Banton.

Perhaps the Fugees logic was that if everyone they name-checked bought a copy of their album they’d be assured of platinum sales.

The music on the Score is what people call R and B, which is a term that needs a lot more definition than it has been given. What it means as far as this album is concerned is a mix of real instruments with samples and singing with rapping. As she proved in her solo career, Lauryn Hill can sing. Her biggest moment in this album is a cover of Killing Me Softly which proves she can belt out a tune but I found a bit repetitive and not as interesting as the original.

I can see why people who like R and B like the Fugees. They’re stuff is original, they’re lyrics are witty and Hill is a talented vocalist. I tapped my toes during Fugee-La but I can’t say I’ve been converted.

Highlight: Fu-Gee-La.

Lowlight: The weird skit in which a Henry Rollins-impersonating waiter starts a fight in a restaurant. What’s all that about?

Influenced by: Most of the musicians name checked.

Influenced: Future R and B singers.

Favourite Amazon customer review quote: Actually the submitters to amazon were pretty restrained about this so I went to Youtube where I found this gem in the comments for Killing Me Softly: “My mom wass Giviingg biirth to me while thiiss song wass on the radio in the carr soo tiiss iiss myy song lol :D”

-That is really cool. Badly typed but really cool none the less.

So is this R and B Rocking and Beautiful or Rubbish and Boring? Let me know below.

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