It’s been an eventful ten, even five, years for Pras Michel. A protracted struggle to break into a cookie-cutter music business with his mates, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean. Earth-shattering success on the Fugee’s sophomore disc, The Score, and the near cultural deification, which followed. A taste of selfdom’s glory and gory sides with the single “Ghetto Supastar” and the subsequent album of the same name. And, of course, the dissolution of the Fugees themselves. A long ten, or five, years indeed. “My life changed in a significant way, obviously. Being with the Fugees, with Clef and Lauryn. Then us disbanding. When you’re together with a group of people like that you feel like they’re family, you feel like they’re your siblings. But there’s a harsh reality- nothing lasts forever. You have to be ready to grow and grow fast.
For Pras Michel, Win, Lose or Draw provides the armor and sustenance for that jungle. “Coming off The Score I did the “Ghetto Supastar” record as a demo. A friend of mine got it to Warren Beatty and Interscope, and it became a big single. Then, in came the classic, ‘oh my god, yo, let’s put an album together, now.’ I was rushed into the studio. I really can’t blame anyone but myself, because I didn’t have to deliver the album. But when you get caught up in the gas, and you’re young, and there’s so much helium going on around you, you can’t decipher the real end. Later, I realized that I was compromising myself. So, for this album I was determined to do it my way. Take my time. I’m gonna win, lose or draw on my own.
One listen to Win, Lose or Draw will convince you that Pras Michel, indeed, went for it. As befitting a member of the Fugees, the album pulses with the same thoughtfulness and sociopolitical vision that marked the Fugees individual and collective work, along with a grown-man maturity that’s all Pras Michel. “When we came up with titles like ‘Ready or Not’, that’s how we really felt. Sometimes people say things because it sounds cool. But when I say I’m with the revolution, especially now, I’m dead serious about it. There’s a lot of madness going on out there. Artists can only be what they are, but the industry [today] only goes with what they think people wanna hear.”
Pras Michel plunges into those issues in honest and sincere fashion on Win, Lose or Draw. From the first single, “Haven’t Found” to the soon to be immigrant anthem, “For Love,” a heartfelt letter to his fellow Haitians, to the Salaam Remi produced, ragga driven “Dance Hall,” featuring Sean Paul and Spragga Benz, to the passionate sentiments voiced on “Party Over,” lamenting a hip-hop world gone blind (“...war going on and y’all don’t even know”), Pras Michel chants down the new Babylon, in his own distinct manner. Fellow Fugee alum Wyclef Jean even turns up “Angel Sings” for a compelling trip down nostalgia lane. “I didn’t want to do the whole, get the hottest person thing,” Pras Michel explains. “I wanted to make sure every record felt right. The record Clef and I did, “Angel Sings,” was just sitting there. So I said, ‘Clef, I got a record, hit a verse on it.’ He just went in, messed around and ended up doing the hook too.”
The years in the game have given Pras Michel perspective, confidence, and hope, despite his disgust, even despair with much of what passes for hip-hop today. “I’m just one of those firm believers that good music will prevail. Different people in the record business would say to me, ‘well, Pras Michel, you know, you haven’t been out in a while, maybe you should get today’s hottest producer or rapper to do something. But I think there’s always room for people to hear different styles of music, especially when it comes from the heart. The public [responds] if it’s given to them the right way. I’m confident being at Universal, which is a great home for me, cause they understand what I’m trying to do. I don’t know what the numbers will be, and we live in a number driven world right now. But I just want my music to get out there to the people. I want them to hear it and for them to make up their own minds about it. And I’ll take it from there, win, lose or draw.”