Emerging in the mid-1990s, The Fugees was a hip-hop, reggae, and neo-soul trio that became one of the most impactful alternative-rap groups ever. Comprised of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, the collective was a musical phenomenon when it first surfaced.
Formed in Maplewood, New Jersey, where Hill and Pras went to high school. Pras suggested that his cousin, Wyclef Jean become part of the group, which initially began as a band. Originally performing as The Tranzlator Crew, the band included Johnny Wise on drums, Ti Bass on guitar, and DJ Leon.
Rising to fame quickly with their genre-fusing music that was unlike anything else at the time. The group’s second album, The Score, is revered within the culture and has been dubbed by several publications as “one of the best in hip-hop history.” With all three members of the trio able to write, produce, and play instruments, it’s unsurprising that when ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ was presented to them as a potential record for them they had no qualms with regard to passing on it for one of their own original tracks.
The song was presented to the collective in 2005 for their impromptu reunion. The mid-2000s reconciliation surprised millions and even saw the group hit the stage at the 2005 BET Awards. The medley performance earned The Fugees a standing ovation from the likes of Beyoncé, Dr Dre and many more. However, what they didn’t realise is that prior to that performance, they had thrown away a future hit, ‘Hips Don’t Lie’.
In an interview with the online magazine Us Weekly, Pras Michael explained that not everyone in the collective was content with the rejection of the track and even disclosed how it reopened old schisms and tensions that existed within the trio. Divulging how it was actually only Hill who had doubts about the record Michel revealed, “When we did the reunion, when we were recording, you felt the magic in the studio. It was about to be explosive,” he said. “I remember that Wyclef [Jean] and I were working on ”Hips Don’t Lie,” that was a Fugee record. Our record was ”Lips Don’t Lie” or something like that. But Lauryn [Hill] didn’t like it.“
Continuing to break down the details of how it ended up with Shakira, Michel explained that the three as well as recording an album were doing songwriting work for Epic Records. According to Michel, the president of the label had called him while he was in the studio with Wyclef Jean and asked if they had a song that would work for Shakira.
As a result of the fallout that had occurred as a result of the track, Michel admitted that both he and Jean re-worked the song to fit Shakira’s sound and happily got rid of it. Released in 2006 for the Colombian singer’s seventh studio album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and to this day is Shakira’s only single to debut at number one on the US charts.
‘In 2006, the single broke the record for the most radio plays in one week. The song was certified quadruple platinum in 2007 by the RIAA. You can listen to ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ in the video below.