“Killing Me Softly” wasn’t the only hit from The Fugees’ 1996 breakthrough album, The Score. It wasn’t even the first hit (that would be “Fu-Gee-La”). But it was the one that really brought the Essex County-based group to the attention of the mainstream, and gave some indication of the future star that Lauryn Hill would become.
The song, of course, had been a huge hit decades before — for Roberta Flack, in 1973 (under the song’s full name, “Killing Me Softly With His Song”).” But Hill still managed to make it seem like an intensely personal statement, and the Fugees’ hypnotic production, which included a sample of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebaum,” made it sound unquestionably contemporary. It was so successful, in fact, that Flack herself came out with her own new version of it, and found herself on the dance charts.
The Fugees won the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group award for “Killing Me Softly” at the 1997 Grammys, in addition to winning the Best Rap Album award.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.