On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Fugees – Ready or Not (1996)
“Ready or Not” Released August 29, 1996 Recorded 1995 Genre Hip hop, R&B Length 3:47 Label Ruffhouse Songwriter(s) Nel Ust Wyclef Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, William Hart, Thomas Bell, Enya, Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan Producer(s) Nelust Wyclef Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, Jerry Duplessis “Ready or Not” on YouTube ” Ready or Not” is a song by the American hip-hop group Fugees, from their second studio album, (1996).
We’re leaving Los Angeles behind today, dear reader, but remaining in the US and making our way over to New Jersey. Formed in 1992 Fugees were a hip hop trio made up of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. As well as hip hop, the trio branched out into soul and reggae. We join them in 1996 with their second album – The Score – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the song – Ready or Not.
Ready or Not draws inspiration and indeed samples from two other songs. The title and chorus link back to Ready or Not Here I Come (I Can’t Hide From Love) which was recorded by The Delfonics back in 1968. The track itself samples music from Boadicea which was recorded by Enya in 1987. The Fugees’ track sees each of the members take it in turns to address their hip hop peers with Wyclef Jean lambasting them for their tough image as gangster rappers while in real life they wouldn’t be able to handle the consequences of such criminal acts. Lauryn Hill focuses on a similar area with her peers drawing inspiration from legendary criminals, such as Al Capone, while she would rather look with admiration to Nina Simone. Finally, Pras Michel makes reference to his Hatian roots and talks of refugees taking over.
I feel nostalgic revisiting so many familiar tracks from my teenage years. Fugees scored a massive hit in 1996 with a cover of Killing Me Softly. They followed that up with Ready or Not which I recall topping the UK charts and giving the trio their second no.1. Despite the success of these songs and their latest album, the trio were at loggerheads and separated in 1997 to pursue solo projects. They reunited briefly at the start of this century but the relationship between the trio remains toxic and they don’t look likely to work together again any time soon.
Favourite songs so far: