Photo: Justin Higuchi

Fugees Stage Final Reunion

18 months following the Fugees abruptly canceled their much-anticipated reunion tour, the trio of Lauryn HillWyclef Jean and Pras Michel shared the stage for what could be the last timeSaturday at Philadelphia’s Roots Picnic.

During the tail end of Hill’s headlining set at the Roots’ annual party, the singer brought out her surprise guests for a six-song mini-set that featured Fugees classics like “How Many Mics,” “Ready or Not,” “Killing Me Softly” and a concert-ending “Fu-Gee-La.”

Saturday’s surprise Fugees reunion marked the first time the trio had all performed together since their one-off New York City gig in Sept. 2021. A reunion tour celebrating the group’s 25th anniversary was planned, but Fugees postponed and ultimately canceled the shows, citing the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.

However, behind the scenes, the group faced a much bigger issue, and one that could result in Roots Picnic being the final Fugees show for the long-foreseeable future: In April, Pras Michel was found guilty of 10 charges against him — including money laundering, illegal lobbying, and campaign finance violations — for his role in a multimillion-dollar government influence campaign that involved both the Obama and Trump administrations.

As Rolling Stone reported, the charges against Michel were tied to his relationship with Malaysian financier Jho Low. Low is accused of stealing $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, and prosecutors claimed Michel pocketed millions from helping Low run foreign-influence campaigns against the U.S. government. (Low was named as a co-defendant in the case, but is currently a fugitive.) 

Michel was accused of funneling money from Low to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, as well as lobbying Donald Trump’s administration to drop an investigation into Low and extradite dissident Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. 

Michel continually maintained his innocence, telling Rolling Stone, “What benefit would I get trying to break laws? It’s not worth it to me. I’m like a pariah now. I’ve got friends who won’t talk to me because they think there’s a satellite in orbit listening to them.”

Michel faces up to 20 years in prison; a sentencing date hasn’t been scheduled yet.

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Author: Saul Goode

Photo: Justin Higuchi