The Saturday evening Ms. Lauryn Hill set at Roots Picnic in Philadelphia turned into a surprise Fugees reunion when Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel joined the singer onstage at The Mann Center.
As Hill explained before bringing Wyclef and Pras to the stage for the end of her set, while this performance came in celebration of 25 years of her lauded solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, “Funny enough, there was another 25th anniversary celebration that we intended to celebrate, but we didn’t get to because of COVID. So, what I did was I decided to bring some friends out with me.”
The buzzing crowd clearly knew who she meant, and before long Jean and Michel appeared by her side to run through a string of classics from the second and final Fugees album, The Score, including “The Score”, “How Many Mics”, “Zealots”, “Ready or Not”, “Killing Me Softly With His Song”, and “Fu-Gee-La”, with The Roots serving as the backing band.
Questlove, drummer for The Roots and co-curator of Roots Picnic, reflected on the reunion in a post on Instagram. “What A Night,” he wrote. “In 1993 an unknown band called the Fugees (at the request of the record label i interned at @ruffhouserecords) opened up for us at [The Trocodero] in Philadelphia—-this was one of their first gigs since signing to a major label. They were there to help us celebrate our signing to [Geffen Records]. Their [Blunted On Reality album] got released in early 93. We got our deal in Dec 93 & man… Now 30 years later & look at us now. What a journey. [Ms. Lauryn Hill] did us a solid by letting us not only letting us celebrate with her the classic [Miseducation of Lauryn Hill] but she also made a moment by bringing together her bredren [Wyclef Jean] and [Pras Michel]……in what could possibly be one of the last times we will see this institution together in this setting.”
Other than a one-off show in New York in 2021 as part of a Global Citizen streaming event, Wyclef, Pras, and Lauryn have not performed as the Fugees since 2006. The group was due to follow the 2021 NYC date with a full arena tour marking 25 years of The Score, but postponed and later canceled the outing due to continued concerns over COVID-19.
As Questlove hinted at in his post, other extenuation circumstances likely led to the tour’s cancellation, as well. Around the same time, reports began to surface that the U.S. government was investigating Pras for various white-collar crimes stemming from his dealings with Jho Low, a fugitive businessman accused of siphoning over $4 billion from a Malaysian state investment fund known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Just last month, Pras was convicted on ten counts including finance violations, money laundering, illegal lobbying, witness tampering, and lying to banks. He has yet to be sentenced, but he faces up to 20 years in prison for his convictions.
Considering the weight of his convictions and the generally fleeting collaborative interests of the Fugees in recent years, the surprise appearance by the trio at Roots Picnic could serve as their final performance for a long time—and perhaps ever.
Check out a selection of videos from the surprise Fugees performance at Roots Picnic below. Scroll down for a complete setlist from the Lauryn Hill/Fugees set.
Fugees – “The Score”, “How Many Mics”, “Zealots” – 6/3/23
Fugees – “Ready or Not”, “Killing Me Softly” – 6/3/23
Fugees – “Fu-Gee-La” – 6/3/23
[Video: Mai Perkins]
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Setlist: Ms. Lauryn Hill | Roots Picnic | The Mann Center | Philadelphia, PA | 6/3/23
Set: Everything Is Everything, Superstar, When It Hurts So Bad, Final Hour, Lost Ones, Ex-Factor, To Zion, Nothing Even Matters, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You (Frankie Valli), Doo Wop (That Thing), The Score (Fugees) , How Many Mics (Fugees) , Zealots (Fugees) , Ready or Not (Fugees) , Killing Me Softly With His Song (Fox/Gimbel/Lieberman; Fugees) , Fu-Gee-La (Fugees) 
 with Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel (Fugees)