On Sunday evening, behind the scenes before the second performance of Lauryn Hill and the Fugees’ tour commemorating their anniversary in Los Angeles, the anticipation builds. It will be a while before Hill takes the stage to perform her solo set of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which was released 25 years ago. The audience is gradually filling up the arena.
Pras Michel, one of the original members of the Fugees, is currently in his dressing room at the Kia Forum, enjoying a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. This evening is a special occasion – a tribute to his iconic group and the countless generations that have adored their music – and a celebration of his newfound freedom, despite any lingering limitations.
In April, the rapper was found guilty on a total of 10 charges, including conspiracy and working as an unregistered foreign agent, after a trial in federal court in Washington D.C. The trial featured testimony from well-known actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
He reflects on the impact of Fugees’ legacy and their current tour, which comes 27 years after their influential album “The Score” was released. The lyrics and art in the album are closely related to his life at the moment, particularly when he raps about government authorities and other relevant topics.
The tour “Ms. Lauryn Hill & Fugees: Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 25th Anniversary Tour” will continue until mid-December. Michel, who may receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, does not have a sentencing date at this time. However, he states that he was never worried about being able to go on the tour.
Michel states that he has faith in the process. He has hired a fresh lawyer, Peter Zeidenberg, and is feeling hopeful.
In a recent motion, Michel contended that his former defense lawyer made several mistakes, including utilizing a novel generative AI tool to assist in composing closing statements. The attorney seemed to have mixed up important aspects of the case and incorrectly attributed lyrics from Diddy’s song “I’ll Be Missing You” to the Fugees. This information was stated in the motion for a new trial.
“Michel acknowledges that there has been some progress and we will wait to see the outcome.”
Although he had a negative experience with artificial intelligence, he still believes in its potential. Michel acknowledges that the technology is still in its early stages and there is much progress to be made. He sees it as the future.
In the narrow hallways of the famous Inglewood venue, there are many enthusiastic spectators waiting outside the dressing room. They include friends, family, and fans, including a thrilled Tiffany Haddish. Wyclef Jean’s room soon becomes the main gathering spot, with Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” blaring from the speaker as he proudly displays his performance outfit.
Far too often, reunions feel like cheap plays at nostalgia — not so much a celebration of the great work that came a couple decades prior, but an attempt at capitalizing on collective memory. There is no such sentiment here. When Jean, the third member of the Fugees, thinks about the way these performances affect him, it’s a homecoming — and the result of many years of hard work.
“It feels like creating a band during high school or the first year of college. Similar to the Beatles, it’s like rehearsing your entire life in high school so you never have to rehearse again,” he explains. “Tonight is significant because we’re playing in an arena where the early Lakers played. That’s how I describe the Fugees – like the Showtime Lakers.”
The Fugees’ statement is also forward-thinking – Michel highlights the song “Mask” and its impact on younger individuals who have experienced the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He claims that we predicted many things.
How can a group determine when they have something special? How can they tell if a reunion tour is truly extraordinary? Jean uses the analogy of a mountain – just as people cannot see the processes that formed it over time, they only see the end product, which is breathtaking.
“And that’s sort of like how music is made,” Jean says. “So, when you make music that’s vulnerable, whether it is Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Fugees, Nas’ ‘Illmatic,’ 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’,’ it’s going to always last forever.”
Around 10 p.m., Hill comes out. She receives a plaque for achieving diamond RIAA status with “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and quotes from bell hooks are shown on the screen behind her. As the first of several surprises, Nas joins her on stage to sing “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That).”
Jean and Michel joined Hill, and it feels like no time has gone by. Later, B-Real from Cypress Hill appeared, along with Lil Wayne for the performances of “Ready or Not” and “A Milli.”
Later on, spectators spill out into the darkness. In close proximity, the concert of rapper Travis Scott is coming to an end at SoFi Stadium. The two groups of people merge together on the street; representing the history, current state, and potential of hip-hop, all intertwined.