The Fugees on stage at the Prudential Center on Oct. 17, 2023. Photo Credit: Antoine Delerme

Ready or not, here they come. 

The legendary Fugees trio – Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Prakazrel “Pras” Michel –  came together in their home state of New Jersey for the first time in 27 years to kick off their reunion tour on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

The hip-hop trio banded together for the opening night performance of the extended leg of Hill’s 25th-anniversary tour for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

Wyclef Jean on stage during the Fugees reunion tour at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Oct. 17, 2023. Photo credit: Vania André for The Haitian Times

During an hour-long set, they delivered fan favorites like “Ready or Not,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” and “How Many Mics.”

With two founding Haitian American members, Jean and Michel,  the renowned band put Haiti on the map in the hip-hop world with their Grammy-winning LP “The Score,” released in 1996.

They left an indelible imprint on the hip-hop industry through their lyrical depth, social consciousness, and live instrument integration in their performances.

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel (center) and Lauryn Hill (right) on stage during the Fugees tour at the Prudential Center on Oct. 17, 2023. Photo credit: Antoine Delerme.

“It’s incredible to look back now and see the influence that a couple of Haitian kids from Jersey had with the Fugees,” Michel in an exclusive interview with The Haitian Times. 

“At the time, we were just making the music we felt passionate about – telling stories from our communities and channeling lyrics that inspired us. But that 1996 album really resonated with people and helped put Haiti on the map in a new way.”

Their influence was especially felt in the Haitian-American community following Jean’s now infamous walk across the Grammy stage donning a full-length Haitian flag, broadcasted to millions of people across the world.

“That was the first time I felt represented as a Haitian in the music industry in the United States. That’s the first time I felt like I could claim some cool,” said EJ Dupervil, a Haitian-American marketer and technology entrepreneur living in Atlanta. 

“They were making music that resonated with people and infused elements of Konpa’s tempo and melodic structure,” she said.

“The style of music was hidden in there. If you’re Haitian, you would recognize the Haitian influence,” Dupervil said. “It’s how we hold a note and incorporate purely instrumental bridges. You could hear it in their songs.”

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel backstage waiting to perform at the Fugees reunion tour on Oct. 17, 2023. Photo credit: Antoine Delerme.

The performance comes on the heels of Michel’s legal team filing a motion for a new trial in his federal conspiracy case, following revelations his former defense attorney, David Kenner, used artificial intelligence to compile his final argument for the jury. 

Michel was convicted in April on federal charges related to conspiracy and witness tampering in a campaign to lobby two U.S. presidential administrations. 

“[Kenner] used an experimental artificial intelligence (AI) program to draft the closing argument, ignoring the best arguments and conflating the charged schemes, and he then publicly boasted that the AI program ‘turned hours or days of legal work into seconds’,” Michel’s new defense team from the prominent Washington, DC-based law firm ArentFox Schiff LLP wrote in a scathing motion filed Monday night. 

The motion also revealed that Kenner and his co-counsel had an undisclosed financial interest in the AI program employed during Michel’s trial and schemed to leverage its anticipated effectiveness for promotional purposes.

Michel’s sentencing date is yet to be determined.

The Fugees take the stage again tonight at the Barclay’s Center and on Saturday, Oct. 21, in Washington, D.C.

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