From the 1996 Soundtrack to the Award Winning Documentary: “When We Were Kings”.
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When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film directed by Leon Gast about the famous Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The fight was held in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974.
The film features a number of celebrities, including James Brown, Jim Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee and Thomas Hauser.
When We Were Kings was released in 1996 to strong reviews, and won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The Fugees formed in the early nineties, but changed direction and released their first hip-hop LP, Blunted on Reality, in 1994 under the guidance of Kool and the Gang’s producer Ronald Bell. The album spawned two underground hits, “Nappy Heads (Mona Lisa)” and “Vocab”, but gained little mainstream attention, although it had an unmistakable artistic quality and a very innovative approach in the use of samples. The musical qualities of this first opus would be rediscovered, after the release of their second album The Score which appeared in early 1996.
The Score became one of the biggest hits of 1996 and one of the best-selling hip hop albums of all time. The Fugees first gained attention for their cover versions of old favorites, with the group’s reinterpretations of “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley & the Wailers and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” (originally written by Lori Lieberman in 1971, remade by Roberta Flack in 1973), the latter being their biggest hit. The album also included a re-interpretation of The Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love)” in their hit single, “Ready or Not”, which featured a prominent sample of Enya’s “Boadicea” without the singer’s permission. This prompted a lawsuit resulting in a settlement where Enya was given credit and royalties for her sample. The Fugees have continuously thanked and praised Enya for her deep understanding of the situation, for example in the liner notes for The Score. The Fugees won two 1997 Grammy Awards with The Score (Best Rap Album) and “Killing Me Softly” (Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group).
In 1997, the Fugees all began solo projects: Hill started work on her critically acclaimed The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; Jean began producing for a number of artists (including Canibus, Destiny’s Child and Carlos Santana) and recorded his debut album The Carnival; Pras, with Mya and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, recorded the single “Ghetto Supastar” for the soundtrack to the Warren Beatty/Halle Berry film Bulworth. In early 1998, they reunited to shoot a music video for the song “Just Happy to Be Me” which appeared in the Sesame Street special Elmopalooza.
The trio purposely took its name from a word often used derogatorily to refer to Haitian-Americans (refugee) Refugee Camp, while a name sometimes credited to the trio, also refers to a number of artists affiliated with them, and particularly Jean. John Forté was an early member, rapping and drum programming on two of The Score’s tracks, and served a 14-year prison sentence for cocaine trafficking until his sentence was commuted in November 2008 by George W. Bush.