Ms. Lauryn Hill, one of the headliners at the 2023 Global Citizen Festival, brought out Wyclef Jean and Pras for a surprise Fugees reunion in New York City’s Central Park on Saturday (Sept. 23). The formally dormant trio is back again on Hill’s ongoing 25th anniversary tour celebrating her Grammy album of the year-winning debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Despite persistent sheets of rain badgering the crowd through the event’s six-hour runtime, Global Citizen attendees were captivated when Ms. Lauryn Hill took the stage to deliver a satisfying helping of Miseducation, from the timely “Everything Is Everything” (“change, it comes eventually” is a fitting rejoinder to any doubters of the organization’s cause to end global poverty and tackle climate change) to “Ex-Factor” to “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Hill’s voice remains rich and resonant when she sings and fierce and dexterous when she spits; watching her, you find yourself alternating between joyous sing-alongs and immobile, mouth-agape moments.
Following six tracks from her 1998 debut, Hill brought out her Fugees bandmates for four of the group’s best loved songs. The trio ripped through “How Many Mics” with a fervor that made the wet ground seem to disappear from beneath your feet, and the ecstasy continued with a masterful reading of “Ready or Not.” “Killing Me Softly With His Song” brought the crowd back to reality in a beautiful way, with people sharing in the communal joy of experiencing an all-time classic surrounded by Manhattan’s iconic skyline at night (even if the tips of the skyscrapers disappeared into the storm clouds). After that, the trio trotted through a victory lap of “Fu-Gee-La” before exiting the stage ahead of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ set.
This isn’t the first time the Fugees have spiced up Global Citizen with a reunion. The trio delivered “Ready or Not” during Hill’s 2021 set at the festival, which was one of their first performances together in 15 years. And it was far from the only surprise at Global Citizen Festival’s 2023 edition: Jung Kook brought out unannounced guest Latto for a high-energy performance of their Hot 100 topper “Seven”; plus, just before the Fugees rocked the stage, Harlem DJ/producer D-Nice put together an all-star salute to #HipHop50, with genre pioneer Big Daddy Kane, rising star Rapsody, mic destroyer Busta Rhymes and legendary wordsmith Common celebrating hip-hop in the city that spawned it.
The 2023 edition of the fest was its most sustainable yet, with the stage made entirely out of repurposed and recycled materials, and the all-vegetarian menu coming with fully compostable packaging and utensils, among other initiatives. Global Citizen – which works to end extreme poverty, combat climate crisis and promote equity – began holding free, ticketed concerts in New York City in 2012 and has expanded to stages around the world, including the Power Our Planet concert in Paris in June.