“Ready or Not” is the third track off the second studio album “ The Score” from famous American hip-hop group Fugees. With it reaching the charts globally, the track is a signature from the group. Their name comes from the term “refugees”, as one of the members Neclust Wyclef Jean is from Haiti.
“Ready or Not” was written by all members of the band, as well as four other writers: Thomas Bell, Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan. The track contains a sample of “Boadicea” by Irish singer Enya, who originally almost sued the group. “ “We were actually on the verge of suing them because of the copyright infringement, because they just didn’t approach us. It was a case of, I wasn’t featured at all on the credits and it [the sample] was very much a part of the song,” Enya told Forbes in an interview back in June 2016. One of the members, Samuel Prakazrel Michel (also known as “Pras”) spoke to Billboard.com in 2014 about the recording process. “At one point, the group had disbanded. [Lauryn Hill] had left the group at this point and we didn’t know what we were going to do. She calls me and says, ‘Listen, I’m going to come down to the studio and I’m going to lay down a reference for you guys, a hook. I give you permission to use my hook, my voice, but I don’t want to be a part of this group anymore.’ I said, ‘Fair enough. No problem.’ She said, ‘Make sure certain people are not around when I’m there.’ I said, ‘No problem.’ She’s laying the reference for ‘Ready Or Not’ and then she goes into the bridge and she’s crying. I see her crying. She stops and says, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and leaves. A couple months later she re-joins the group. She said, ‘Let’s do ‘Ready or Not’ again ’cause I was crying. It was emotional.’ She goes in the studio to do ‘Ready Or Not’ again. She was in there five hours doing the hook. Every hit is incredible. But we go back and say, ‘There’s something about that reference. I don’t know if we can touch that.’ We end up keeping the reference. That’s what the world has come to hear. There’s something about that record… That’s magic.” The track features themes of robbery, gun fights, sex and being a refugee.
The music video was released on the Fugees official YouTube channel on the 23rd October 2010. The video portrayed an action movie like feel, with members of the band shown in submarines, being chased by helicopters and swimming away from the police. The music video cost 1.3 million US dollars, and Vibe magazine reported in 1998 that the video helped “usher in the era of bank-breaking, movie-like hip hop videos”. The music video has over 123 million views as of April 2019.
Release Date: 29th August 1996
Songwriter/s: Neclust Wyclef Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, William Hart, Thomas Bell, Enya, Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan
Producer/s: Neclust Wycelf Jean, Samuel Prakazrel Michel, Lauryn Hill, Jerry Duplessis
Music Video Release Date: 23rd October 2010
Chart Rankings & Certifications: The track went Platinum in the UK and charted worldwide. It hit the charts in Australia to Ireland, hitting #1 in countries like Iceland and the UK.