The Fugees performed a pop-up show in New York City to launch their upcoming reunion tour called Diaspora Calling. Orchestrated to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of The Score album, this musical healing moment was about more than the best-selling Hip-Hop offering of all time. It was about family, finding themselves back in harmony after life happens.
In the words of Ms. Lauryn Hill, AllHipHop.com was in the place to “respect the miracle.”
Attendees were told that the show would start early in the evening, but in actuality, the concert started around 10 p.m. EST. True fans giddily awaited Hill’s signature contralto, Wyclef Jean’s patois-tinged emceeing, and Pras Michel’s weaving of the two. Those same music lovers, who anxiously awaited to hear their favorite group perform, lost their minds when the brass band started to play the intro of the set.
A small frame warmed up the trombones, saxes, trumpets, and more — lending signs that this experience was going to be more than just historic but was going to be a cornucopia of rap excellence. And with the mumble of Wyclef spitting “Picking up your microphones” to prime the crowd for their first song, the Holy Spirit seemed to descend on the crowd. Hip-Hop’s Pentecost dropped tongues of hot fire over the heads of the audience. God was truly in the midst, affirming Hill’s “respect the miracle” comment.
Few videos will exist of this impromptu concert as phones were yondr’d at the door and producers had big security guards trudging through the crowd to snatch anyone who snuck a phone in and tried to bootleg the concert. But you know our folk … #ThisIsHipHop
Respectfully, it would not have mattered. There was no way to capture the spirit of the night. As the group when through songs like “How Many Mics,” “Fu-Gee-La,” “Zealots,” “Ready or Not” and “No Woman, No Cry,” people were dumbfounded at the quality of breath control, the pure tone of their voices and the extraordinary chemistry that the trio had. Pras mentioned that they all met Hill when she was 12 and it showed. The way they overlapped as emcees, bopped through oldies but adding slight verbal extensions or improvs to make the quarter-century songs seem fresh, were evidence of old friends keeping space again.
While those songs were executed in excellence (at one point, Ms. Hill shouted out in the mic “That’s L Boogie”), it was two other songs that moved people to tears.
Ms. Hill’s rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” has long been considered one of the best covers of a song in history, second to maybe Whitney Houston/ Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Clef’s “One Time” is as universally known as Stetasonic’s “Where Brooklyn At” command-like adlib. However, it is the ending note that Boogie extends that simply invited the crowd to sing along and it was beautiful. Hearing the one single note, sang in unison by white folk, Black folk, young folk, old folk, straight and gay folk, and everyone in between, was a religious experience and reason enough for people to experience the show.
However, a pure Fugees moment transpired when Wyclef Jean, a former candidate for the Haitian presidency, addressed President Joe Biden not changing an executive order that blocked thousands of his countrymen and women from entering into the United States, despite making an allowance for Afghanistan people. Boldly, as he always has inserted social justice into the musicality of the group, reminding the people that 2021 is not much different than his politicizing in 1996 — he just got wiser in his delivery. Clef asked outlets like CNN and Fox not to twist his words, his desire is for his Haitian people to be treated with equity and human dignity. He even drew attention to the Texas Border Patrol, who came through on a horse with a lasso and whips to round up Haitian migrants. These abuses were caught on camera.
He packaged the message in the intro of his underground hit, “Cowboys.”
The trio sounded good, clearly articulated their current social and musical location, but also looked like stars. No one looked like they needed to tour. They all looked like it was time. They wanted to put aside any disruption and focus on the very important moment in history at hand. The three-to-four generations have enjoyed their music and made them the influencers that they are. Ms. Hill said that they were still “cooking” this 12-city tour up, and wanted to share a little bit with him.
She asked us to “respect the miracle,” and being in the place it was simply impossible not to.
As reported by AllHipHop.com, Diaspora Calling, the Fugees reunion tour, will be in 12 cities and celebrating the album that Rolling Stones said was one of the “The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time,” The Source’s “100 Best Rap Albums,” Spin’s “Top 90 Albums of the 90s,” and that Vibe ranked as one of the “100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century.”
The Fugees charitable fund has partnered with Global Citizen and they will execute the philanthropic initiatives for the tour.
You don’t want to miss it. Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, Sept 24 at 10 a.m. at LiveNation.com.