Wyclef & Pras
The first time I met the Fugees was at a Columbia Records press day in 1993. Columbia Records’ Black Music Department was debuting their newest artists: Big L, Jamalski, Schooly D., The Fugees and others.
Press Day gave independent journalists and photographers the opportunity to meet and interview the new artists, listen to their music and become more familiar with them as they begin their careers. I did not know most of the artists at this press day, though I had heard of names like Schooly D. & Jamalski.
The press day was led by the Publicity and Promotions departments. Their representatives walked the artists, around introducing them to the press people in attendance.
When I was introduced to The Fugees (only Wyclef & Pras at the time) we clicked when we both found out that we were both from Jersey. I got copies of their music at the event and listened to it often.
The Fugees were different. They didn’t have the traditional Hiphop backstory of being part of a crew of other notable artists who were now coming out. They were a three part group that lyrically held their own against other 90’s notables of the time. They had a unique boom-bap hiphop sound, and because they were also musicians they knew how to create music and lyrics together. They were also talented entertainers., and their live shows gave audiences a full experience. Performing with a small band to support the sound, Wyclef would play the guitar complete with a Jimi Hendrix routine of playing the guitar with his teeth.
I shot The Fugees a few times, in 1993 and 1994. The group liked the non-traditional approach I took towards shooting them. I didn’t sell many of my shots, since they were not in demand at the time. Later in ‘94, Wyclef asked me to photograph his wedding. I said sure. I’d shot a lot of weddings over the years and wedding photography allowed me the resources to shoot more hiphop.
It was interesting to watch The Fugees grow from an unknown act whose first album (Blunted On Reality) barely sold. Soon, The Fugees popularity continued to increase and Lauryn Hill became a fixture of 90’s Hiphop.
‘95 into ‘96, The Fugees released their second album, The Score. The early buzz on the album made it clear something big was about to happen. I remember visiting the music video set of Killing Me Softly. They were filming in a movie theater, where Lauryn, Wyclef, and Pras were spread out seated among the extras in the theater.
Looking around I could see something successful was clicking in and they were ready for it. I didn’t shoot anything during my visit to the set. It was mainly for me to check-in/check-on them, to see how they were doing. My last full interaction with them had been at Wyclef’s wedding.
I could see they were well. I said what’s up and talked to each of them. They were well on their way to stardom.