This article originally appeared in the April 1996 issue of SPIN.
In hip-hop’s cosmology, “hardcore” rap means a cantankerous MC kicking rhymes like bodies over harsh, skeletal beats. “Alternative,” on the other hand—singing, melodies, instrumentation, any sort of peace-and-love attitude—translates as “no skills.” So hip-hop trio the Fugees—Wyclef “Clef” Jean, Lauryn “L” Hill, and Prakazrel “Pras” Michel—aren’t at all pleased to be in this section.
“We are a hip-hop group, point blank,” says 20-year-old Hill, a doe-eyed gamine of startling beauty and as brawny and nimble a rapper as she is a rapturous soul singer. “‘Alternative’ is like saying ‘she’s attractive for a dark-skinned girl,’ a backhanded compliment. Just
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