The hook is interpolated from a 1998 Teena Marie song called "Ooo La La La." Marie sings:
Ooo la la la, is the way that you feel when you know it's real
Lauryn Hill transforms this section into:
Foo la la la, it's the way we rock when we're doing our thing
Much of the track is sampled from the 1972 Ramsey Lewis instrumental version of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right."
This song is a great representation of the The Fugees, with each member getting a verse where they discuss their struggle and what they stand for. Their biggest hit, a cover of "Killing Me Softly With His Song
," has lead vocals only by Lauryn Hill.
At concerts, the group would use this song to shout out the city where they were performing, with Hill singing something along the lines of:
Foo la la la, it's the natural high only [insert city] can bring
The Fugees released their first album, Blunted on Reality, in 1993. It did fairly well, with the single "Nappy Heads" reaching #49 on the Hot 100. "Fu-Gee-La," released late in 1995, was the first single from their second album, The Score. At the time, Hill was still taking classes at Columbia University; when their record company had her and her bandmates appear at a New York record store to sign copies of the single, she was shocked to see a line around the block. She was even more surprised to find out they were all there for the Fugees.
The album became one of the most successful of the decade, and a hip-hop landmark. The group toured the world and earned widespread acclaim, including a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
Salaam Remi produced this track, earning a writing credit for his contributions. He went on to work with Nas and Amy Winehouse.
The song started when Wyclef Jean shouted out the first line, "We used to be Number 10, now we're permanent one." Salaam Remi had a beat Fat Joe rejected that ended up being the one they used. From there, the song took shape.
The group thought this song was going to be the big hit from the album, not "Killing Me Softly," so they put a lot of effort into the video, shooting an homage to the Jimmy Cliff movie The Harder They Come
in Jamaica with director Guy Guillet.
In America, this was the only single released from the album, as the group's record company wanted to encourage album sales. "Killing Me Softly," "Ready Or Not
" and "No Woman, No Cry" were sent to radio stations as promotional singles, but not sold.