June 27, 2007

Drink Coasters: The Fugees - Blunted On Reality (February 1, 1994)

In 1994, two Hatians and a hot chick from New Jersey, who was then better known as Rita from SIster Act 2 (and as an elevator operator from Steven Soderbergh's early film King of The Hill), released their debut album as The Fugees. Their CD, Blunted On Reality, was released by Ruffhouse/Columbia to almost zero fanfare, yet somehow it sold over two million copies worldwide. I'm just guessing here, but I believe that most of the two million buyers thought that their debut was just more of the same from their breakout album The Score.

But they could not have been more wrong. You see, The Score is, for the most part, entertaining. Blunted On Reality has given me a terrible fucking headache that I'm still trying to recover from.

From what I understand, The Fugees's live shows were pretty, well, live, and that led to their eventual record deal. Lauryn Hill had not yet found that perfect balance between rapping and singing, instead opting to go the emcee route. Wyclef Jean wasn't yet ubiquitous and annoying as shit. (Full disclosure: I liked Clef's The Carnival, so this shouldn't be read as an attack.) And Pras sucked. (You can read into that whatever you want.)

The album spawned three singles, two of which folks in the underground were looking out for, caring and nurturing them as if it were their own seed. The leadoff twelve inch, "Boof Baf", if easily one of the worst first singles I have heard in my years as a hip hop historian. If you heard this song, and then listened to, fuck, anything from The Score (except for "Killin' 'Em Softly, a cover which I cannot stand), you would be hard pressed to find any similarity between the two groups. "Nappy Heads", the original, sounds passable, with some hard ass drums and a great horn sample, but the rhymes aren't polished; it sounds as if they woke up that morning and decided that rapping would be a good source of income. The Fugees released a version remixed by Salaam Remi (now known for his awesome work with Nas) which is the best song on this waste of plastic.
As for the third single, "Vocab", this is the song that has caused me the most grief. You see, the video version was a fucking remix, one that doesn't appear on this CD. (In fact, it wouldn't surface again until Bootleg Versions, their EP of rare and unreleased material.) The remix sounds great, starting off with Lauryn's voice, which just invites you into the Refugee world, before the drums kick in. The original version, in contrast, has a more acoustic sound with the same guitar lick, but the song doesn't work, as the rhymes seem forced.

The beats presented here aren't very distinctive, either. "Refugees On The Mic" and "Livin' Like There Ain't No Tomorrow" sound exactly the same to me. Clef sounds like he's rhyming with his last breath during every single bar. Lauryn Hill doesn't really sing here, which is weird, since her voice is one of the most distinctive things she has going for her musically. Pras, well, there isn't anything I can really say other than he wasn't any good back then, either.

Blunted On Reality is puzzling in that, somehow, The Fugees were allowed to record a second album, and then their career took off. This album isn't very good, and I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, since life is too short. Go get The Score instead.

(Disagree with the above review? Leave a comment below! Don't be shy!)


  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2007

    =when did you start listening to hip hop ?
    Back in the day this album as a whole wasb;t the gretest but the fugees had a couple singles that everybody was feeling? Get serious man, did you listen to this recently and write a review on it? Cause Hip Hop moves to fast for someone from today's bland and uncreative landscape to appreciate the innovativeness of early 90's hip hop.

  2. That's a fair question, I guess. The answer would be, for the last twenty-six years. The point of my blog, as a whole, is to bring up albums that are either considered to be 'classics' to see if they still hold up, or to point out that your favorite artists have had missteps along their way to greatness. I'm not one of those hip hop stans that claims that every single song from my favorite artists is the best shit ever, as evidenced by my Wu-Tang reviews, and they're my favorite fucking group ever. And yes, I listened to it recently and wrote a review on it. That's the fucking POINT. And it doesn't hold up at all. My opinion stands. Thanks for reading!

  3. Lord help those that honestly try and defend Blunted on reality for they must in fact be blunted and are therefore going to be cast into the fiery pits of hell. This anonymous fellow probably swears too. Heathen!

  4. Usually I'm pretty calm and laid back but this album fucking stinks! I bought this garbage because I really liked the "Nappy Heads" remix, I still think the beat sounds good, but the rest of the album is pure diarrhea. This album was so bad, it completely discouraged me from ever buying a Fugee-related project ever again. How did this crap sell 2 million copies? Oh yeah, people like me got duped into buying this trash. I'm very suspicious of Wyclef especially from that Shakira "Hips don't lie" song. It seems this guy is one of the luckiest guys in music. Has this guy ever come up with anything truly original? However, I haven't listened to the Carnival, so he could be better than I talk about.

  5. The Vocab remix you refer to was on the single. The single was a better purchase than the album, which was boring in 94 and I'm sure is even more so boring with the ear of today. Lol the ear of today.

    1. Vocab [Remix]
    2. Vocab [Refugees Hip Hop Remix]
    3. Vocab [Refugees Acoustic Remix]
    4. Refugees on the Mic [Remix]
    5. Vocab [Remix Instrumental]
    6. Vocab [Salaam's Acoustic Remix]
    7. Vocab [Vibey Remix]
    8. Nappy Heads [Mad Spider Mix]

  6. AnonymousJune 21, 2008

    I actually like Lauryn's vocals on Temple.

  7. Vocab is still a song I can listen to. But only until the first half of Wyclef's verse then its off. There was a good remix of Mona Lisa too. But again, instrumental was much better. Can we not all agree once and for all that the Fugees should have been Wyclef producing for Lauryn Hill?

  8. AnonymousMay 20, 2009

    No love for Lauryn's verse on the intro track or "Some Seek Stardom"? The album was inconsistent and, generally, quite poor, but there were flashes of talent showing through. I concede, though, to having bought the album based on the Vocab remix and being rather displeased with its absence amidst the likes of "Boof Baf".

  9. AnonymousJuly 25, 2009

    max is right on this one, go get the score instead

  10. I hate every track on here except one. I love "Recharge," that song is the shit to this day imo.

  11. There were 4 versions of Vocab already out by 1994 on the Maxi-Single and Promo single release, including the Refugees Hip Hop Remix.

  12. AnonymousMay 29, 2016

    The best thing about Boof Baf is cds artwork cause Lauryn is so hot there and I like Pras jupe his grandfather gave him. Video is crazy cool too!