It was surreal to be at Pier 17 watching Wyclef Jean, Pras, and Ms. Lauryn Hill, AKA the Fugees, standing shoulder-to-shoulder on stage for the first time in 15 years. The trio announced their reunion less than 48 hours prior to taking the stage at what was initially a secret location in New York City. The short set was a taste of what’s to come on their upcoming reunion tour, celebrating 25 years of their magnanimous sophomore LP, The Score.
— Nizaiah (@nizaiah1221) September 23, 2021
The set was filmed by Pulse Films (which is owned by Vice), and presented by Global Citizen, which will apparently air at least part of the show this Saturday, September 25. In an effort to ensure a level of secrecy, phones were ordered to be placed in Yondr pouches for the duration of show (which have been used by other acts including Madonna and Lady Gaga). That didn’t stop fans, though. After the show I discovered a photo of Hill from the show on Twitter. When I asked the person who posted it how they got the shot, she responded, “I broke the phone thingy,” alongside two crying laughing emojis. After discovering a small pool of other photos and videos, I found another fan who broke their pouch. They defiantly tweeted “also thanks for playing #Yonder next time make your stupid fucking pouches stronger.” Moral of the story? Don’t get between Fugees fans and a moment they’ve been waiting a decade and a half for.
The set was concise, just 7 songs, all from The Score, and one freestyle from Wyclef. It was a taste of what they’ve been cooking for the tour, Hill told the audience between songs. All three were in top form, but of course the MVP of the show was Hill, who was in peak form, despite the ruffles from her dress being uncooperative in the wind (which she joked about mid-show). Watching her effortlessly replicate vocals from a quarter-century ago was staggering, especially considering all the mess that has surrounded her in the years between. Her rhyming was razor sharp, and her vocals were heavenly. All the downtime in between has served her very well.
The physical setlist that circulated after the show ended also included “Nobody,” Hill’s scene-stealing verse on Nas’ 2021 album Kings Disease II. Curiously, Hill elected to not perform it. At that point in the show, she side-stepped Wyclef’s invitation to kick a few more rhymes. Instead, she spoke on the magnitude of their reunion and the impact the group had (and continue to have) on music. She also reflected on meeting Pras when she was just 12, and being introduced to his crazy cousin Wyclef.
Then she turned to them and said, can we do that one? The keyboard kicked in and before she uttered “strumming” the audience was ready for their ultimate sing-a-long moment of “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Whether this reunion just spans their three-continent tour or reignites the creative juices for some studio time, it’s clear that the Fugees haven’t missed a step in their time apart. Their tour kicks off November 2 in Chicago.
The Score (Introduction)
How Many Mics
Wyclef Freestyle/Lauryn Talk
Killing Me Softly With His Song
Ready Or Not
No Woman No Cry