The Fugees deserve a blog all to themselves. This one will only focus on one of their many, many hits.
The Fugees - Ready Or Not
"Ready or Not" is the second biggest record in the Fugees catalog. Both sales-wise and award wise.
It was also the second featured single from The Score, following the massive chart-topper "Killing Me Softly." It also featured all three of the group's members as opposed to "Killing Me Softly".
The record serves as a warning to fake rappers.
The music video for the song also set the precedent for over the top production, movie-like music videos. The budget for the video was $1.3 million and The Fugees spent every dime of it by taking advantage of helicopters, yachts, sharks, explosions, and more. This video was robbed at that year's MTV VMA’s. It didn’t even get nominated.
The record samples two monster songs, the first being the Mo-town classic "Ready Or Not Here I Come" by The Delfonics.
Complex - Ready or Not was magic. The magic behind Ready or Not it was a sample actually. ‘Clef came up with it on the first MPC that I bought. We were learning how to sample and Wyclef came up with that Delfonics sample. That was the first song actually we recorded for The Score. Lauryn wasn’t there when we did the beat.
When Lauryn came in, I remember it was me, her and the engineer. And Lauryn came in and she started that hook and my engineer started crying. No joke, the engineer started crying. Because if you listen to that hook, and there was no rhyme on it. It was just the music. And the way she did the hook… She is just special, man. Special. The way she did the hook, she bodied it. - Jerry Wonder, Producer
The other, famous instrumental, comes from Enya's "Boadicea".
FUN FACT - did you know Enya is the wealthiest woman in British music with a fortune of £91 million?
What's pretty wild about this sampling was The Fugees, producer Jerry Wonder, and Ruffhouse Records all neglected to reach out to Enya for permission (clearance) of the record sample. They just put it on their LP with no clearance.
Forbes - At the beginning, with The Fugees, we were actually on the verge of suing them because of the copyright infringement, because they just didn’t approach us. It was a case of, I wasn’t featured at all on the credits and it [the sample] was very much a part of the song. So myself, Nicky and Roma felt it was very important to stand up in that regard to how we felt about sampling. By all means… if you want to sample a piece, but come forward, let’s hear the song and if we’re happy to go ahead we will absolutely approve.
How do you feel about The Fugee’s “Ready or Not?” Many regard that to be a classic.
Oh absolutely, I think they’re wonderful musicians. We were both fans, but the way it just happened was the wrong way and I just felt I had to make a stand for what I believed in musically. As you said with P Diddy, it was a phone call, and all we expected was just a call to say “will you listen to this song?” It was just a case of not being asked or not being credited, it wasn’t right.
Wyclef gave his side of the story -
Vulture - “When I was sampling Enya, she lived out of a castle in Europe. Nobody was sampling Enya. It was forbidden. She didn’t get no kind of clearance for her music. Literally, we got threatened,” he explained. After the project came out, Fugees heard back from her legal team.
He went on to recount how they resolved the issue:
Literally, we got threatened to pull everything from the album. She was like, ‘Remove everything from the shelf right now, or it’s not going to be good for you.’ Enya, who has been sampled many times over the years, has said that the forceful response was due to the fact that the Fugees had not approached her team for permission or given her credit for what turned out to be a major part of the song. It was crazy because I didn’t even understand the knowledge of paying for a sample—keep in mind, we’re just young producers in the hood chopping stuff up. So then there had to be a conversation with Enya. We had to pay a fee, but she went with it.
The two sides eventually came to an agreement when Enya discovered that Fugees were not “gangster rappers,” and Sony Records agreed to put a sticker on all copies of The Score crediting her for the sample.
Wyclef explained to Vulture that at first people didn’t understand his decision to sample “Boadicea.” “As a very eclectic producer, a lot of what I was listening to was coming out of Europe, so sometimes it took people a minute to hear where I was coming from,” he said. “When I played the sample just by itself as a sample, without the breakbeat, it was just, ‘Where you going with this?’ I was like, ‘Yo, trust me, when the breaks on it, it’s gonna sound crazy.'”
"Ready Or Not" also features sample elements from Kurtis Blow's "If I Ruled The World"
There's also a small credit sample for Bob Marley's "Buffalo Solder"
FUN FACT - "Ready Or Not" is Barstool comment section favorite Barack Obama's favorite song ever.