Consumer Guide Album
Fugees: The Score [Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1996]
They got black humanism, gender equality, and somebody to eclipse Duke Bootee in the Columbia alumni magazine. They sample "I Only Have Eyes for You" from before they were born, misprise "Killing Me Softly" like it was the Rosetta stone, emerge unscathed from the both-sides-of-gangsta trap, and aren't so nervous about being followed they won't leave landmarks on their soundscape. And astonishingly, they're not just selling to a core audience--this is one of the rare hip hop albums to debut high and rise from there. So you bet they're alternative--they'd better be in a subculture backed into defiant self-pity by rabid reactionaries, lying ex-liberals, and media moguls suddenly conscience-stricken over the nutritional content of what they always considered swill. Forget their debut, from before they discovered the gender-equality formula in which one girl learning equals two guys calling the shots. Forget the Roots, Aceyalone, Pharcyde. This isn't another terrible thing to waste. It's so beautiful and funny its courage could make you weep.