Fugees | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Made up of Wyclef Jean and Prakazrel Michel, a pair of Haitian refugees--hence the moniker--and New Jerseyite Lauryn Hill, this hip-hop trio has been saddled with the stupid label "alternative rap" merely because it doesn't espouse casual violence, sexism, or misogyny. The Fugees' syllable-cramming, dancehall-inflected rap style ain't that far off the genre's well-beaten path, but fused with their musical fusions it manages to sound distinctive. Their muscular grooves are colored by unusually complicated arrangements (horns, guitars) and flashes of reggae and rock, and sometimes they even dispense with drums altogether, as on "Vocab," a song employing only acoustic guitar (a la Bob Marley's "Redemption Song") from their debut Blunted on Reality (the title of which cops to their proweed sentiment). All of which means that their fervent rants--recalling Arrested Development's rampant positivism while addressing a narrower slate of issues--are couched in music varied enough to keep them from sounding preachy. They open for Queen Latifah and hip-hop-touched jazzbos the Solsonics. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage. 929-5959 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Danny Clinch.

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