The Fugees Reunite For What May Be Their Last Show
Lauryn Hill surprised fans tonight (June 3) with a special Fugees reunion concert during the 2023 Roots Picnic. Taking place at West Philadelphia’s The Mann Center, Saturday headliner Ms. Lauryn Hill brought out her former band-mates Wyclef Jean and Pras.
Backed by The Roots, the Grammy Award-winning trio performed classics, including “Zealots,” “Ready Or Not,” and “Ki__ing Me Softly With His Song,” The moments happened during Hill’s set, which began with solo standout “Everything Is Everything.” The lyrics, “Everything is everything, what is meant to be, will be,” resonated with the rest of the set—which ended with a spirited performance of “Fu-Gee-La.”
In the live-stream on Instagram, The Roots Questlove posted a caption “The last Fugees show.” “We kinda all came out at the same time; we’re like classmates. This is like a class reunion,” L-Boogie said of jamming with The Roots.” She also thanked members of The Roots crew for their contributions to The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. This personnel includes keyboardist James Poyser.
Ambrosia For Heads attended the event and captured the performance from the crowd:
The Roots Picnic show took place ahead of Pras facing significant jail time. In April, the MC/producer was found guilty of 10 counts, including conspiracy as well as acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. Ahead of the verdict, Pras was accused of funneling money from a Malaysian financer Low Taek Jho—now a fugitive. That money allegedly traveled through straw donors to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. According to the Associated Press, money was also used in an alleged attempt to squelch a Justice Department investigation during the following administration in the late 2010s. The 50-year-old artist now faces approximately 20 years behind bars, per NPR. Pras, born Prakazrel Michel, was represented by former Death Row Records counsel David Kenner.
After the show, on IG Live, Questlove addressed the sentence being the cause of what may The Fugees last show. The Grammy-winner added, “though I hope it isn’t.” He also called the moment “bittersweet” and “a full-circle moment” in his career.
In late 1993, when The Roots signed with MCA/Geffen Records, they held a party to honor the event at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theater. Questlove has spoken about it on Questlove Supreme. The drummer/producer, who formerly interned at Ruffhouse Records—the label backing The Fugees—agreed to let the New Jersey-based collective open for The Roots crew. He spoke about it during a QLS episode with Ruffhouse co-founder Chris Schwartz. From the stage, Lauryn Hill brought up Ruffhouse and shouted out the label founders Chris Schwartz and Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo. She credited the Philly-based label on signing the group, “without The Score.” Schwartz attended the event.
Years later, The Fugees and The Roots had a reported brief rivalry—reportedly based on a misunderstanding surrounding both being Hip-Hop bands, as well as lyrics thought to be jabs. “We were more like artists and rappers who happen to play instruments but we weren’t necessarily a band,” Pras told AllHipHop in the late-2010s. “The Roots were a band…but there was nothing there. We never said we were the best Hip-Hop band; we’re a group.” The Fugees co-founder added, “Our main thing was we were MCs, while The Roots was a band that just happened to have an MC in the band, that was Black Thought.” Questlove corroborated that story. “I’ll say that the closest we came to [a beef] – and it was more creative s__t – I think it was a little something with The Fugees back then [in the 1990s],” Ahmir Thompson told DJ Whoo Kid’s Radio Planet in 2010. “I heard a rumor, somebody called me and said they started doing some ‘Hip-Hop 101’ thing at their show and was like, you know, ‘If you see anybody else doing this [Hip-Hop band] thing, remember you saw it here first,’ knowing that it was a lie. But that was the closest thing.” The lie may have referred to others bands, including Stetsasonic and the Sugar Hill Records musicians. In a recent episode with Diamond D (who was also at the picnic), Questlove admitted that lyrics from the title track of The Score were once (and briefly) thought to be jabs at their Interstate 95 neighbors.
Notably, on Instagram Live moments after the concert, Questlove recalled the water fights and fun in the 1990s when The Roots and The Fugees toured together.
In 2021, The Fugees had a brief reunion tour in celebration of the then-upcoming The Score anniversary. After a popup concert in New York City, the 2022 planned dates were canceled, citing the pandemic.
There is no date of when Pras is expected to report for his upcoming sentence.
Other Saturday’s Roots Picnic performers included GloRilla, The Isley Brothers, and Symba. On Sunday, Usher will headline the event inside Philly’s Fairmount Park alongside The Roots.