Ready or Not – Unveiling the Layers of a Hip-Hop Anthem


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Fugees's Ready or Not at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Hide and Seek: A Metaphor for Survival
  5. A Gritty Chronicle of the Marginalized
  6. Chess Moves and the Game of Life
  7. The Anthem of the Underdog
  8. Stirring the Pot: The Hidden Meanings in Linguistic Rebellion

Lyrics

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide
Gonna find you and take it slowly
Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (ooh)
Gonna find you and make you want me (yo)

Now that I escape, sleepwalker awake (yeah)
Those who could relate know the world ain’t cake
Jail bars ain’t golden gates
Those who fake, they break
When they meet their four-hundred pound mate
If I could rule the world (if I ruled the world)
Everyone would have a gun in the ghetto of course
When giddyuping on their horse (giddyup)
I kick a rhyme drinking moonshine
I pour a sip on the concrete, for the deceased
But no don’t weep, Wyclef’s in a state of sleep
Thinking ’bout the robbery that I did last week
Money in the bag, banker looked like a drag
I wanna play with pelicans from here to Baghdad
Gun blast, think fast, I think I’m hit
My girl pinched my hips to see if I still exist
I think not, I’ll send a letter to my friends
A Born Again hooligan only to be king again

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide
Gonna find you and take it slowly
Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (ooh)
Gonna find you and make you want me (yo, yo, yo)

Yo, I play my enemies like a game of chess, where I rest
No stress, if you don’t smoke sess, lest
I must confess, my destiny’s manifest
In some Goretex and sweats I make treks like I’m homeless
Rap orgies with Porgy and Bess
Capture your bounty like Elliot Ness, yes
Bless you if you represent the Fu
But I’ll hex you with some witch’s brew
If you’re doo-doo, voodoo
I can do what you do, easy, believe me
Fronting niggas give me hee-bee-gee-bees
So while you’re imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone
And defecating on your microphone

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide
Gonna find you and take it slowly

You can’t run away
From these styles I got, oh baby, hey baby
Cause I got a lot, oh yeah
And anywhere you go (ooh)
My whole crew’s gonna know baby, hey baby
You can’t hide from the block, oh no

Ready or not, refugees taking over (ready or not)
The Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta
On the twelfth hour, fly by in my bomber
Crews run for cover, now they’re under pushing up flowers
Superfly true lies, do or die (he’s super fly)
Toss me high, only puff lye
With my crew from lakay
I refugee from Guantanamo Bay
Dance around the border like I’m Cassius Clay (yessir, yo)

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (ooh, yo, hey yo nobody move)
Gonna find you and take it slowly (yeah)
Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (ooh, yo, hey yo nobody move)
Gonna find you and make you want me (whoa, yeah, c’mon)

Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (you know the, you know the)
Gonna find you and take it slowly
Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide (ooh, yo, hey yo nobody move)
Gonna find you and make you want me (ooh)

Ready-

Full Lyrics

Anchored by a haunting refrain that echoes through decades, ‘Ready or Not’ by the Fugees stands as a towering monument in the landscape of ’90s hip-hop. The track weaves a seductive mix of Lauryn Hill’s sultry choruses with deft lyrical narratives spun by Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. But beneath its mesmerizing sonic surface lie layers of potent meaning and cultural commentary that continue to resonate.

As listeners, we are drawn into a paradoxical world of shadow and light, a space where vulnerability collides with power. The Fugees craft a narrative that is both personal and political, raw and rhythmical. ‘Ready or Not’ is not just a catchy tune but a complex musical tapestry that demands us to look closer, to dissect its stanzas for the rich themes interwoven within.

Hide and Seek: A Metaphor for Survival

On the surface, ‘Ready or Not’ plays like an ominous game of hide and seek, a challenge that carries an air of inevitability and a sense of foreboding. The mantra-like chorus serves as a constant reminder of the persistence and inescapability of certain truths. But who is hiding, and from what? The game here is existential, a symbol of the struggle to survive in a world filled with social inequalities and personal demons.

The lyrics navigate through the perils of life’s hardships, where ‘jail bars ain’t golden gates’ and the reality is far from idyllic. It’s a snapshot of confronting one’s circumstances head-on, ready or not. The Fugees capture a sense of urgency in facing the challenges that lie ahead, suggesting that there’s no evading the trials that life presents.

A Gritty Chronicle of the Marginalized

Wyclef Jean’s verses transport the listener to the streets, where the rules are different and survival is currency. The reference to a ‘Born Again hooligan’ suggests reincarnation of spirit and intent, speaking to the cyclical nature of oppression and defiance. The imagery of playing with pelicans from ‘here to Baghdad’ stretches the local struggles to a global stage, highlighting the universality of struggle among the disenfranchised.

The song contemplates a world ruled not by laws of justice but dictated by the need to survive. The gun in the ghetto is a symbol of both oppression and protection, a nuanced take on power dynamics within marginalized communities. It’s a commentary that’s as relevant today as it was at the song’s release, if not more so.

Chess Moves and the Game of Life

The reference to a game of chess in Pras Michel’s verse is a clever framing device for the strategic navigation required in both the music industry and life. While some fight stresses with vices ‘if you don’t smoke sess,’ others channel their destinies into creating change – their manifestos clad in ‘Goretex and sweats.’

The clever metaphor extends to the capture of bounties, the overcoming of obstacles with wit and planning. There’s an air of intellectual combativeness to the way the Fugees position themselves, ready to face competitors and life’s hurdles with the same mental acuity that one brings to a game of chess.

The Anthem of the Underdog

With its haunting hooks and potent verses, ‘Ready or Not’ transcends to become the anthem of the underdog. It’s a call to arms for those who’ve been left behind, for the refugees of systems and societies. The Buffalo Soldier, the dreadlock Rasta, those running for cover – they’re all archetypes of resistance, evoking the spirit of rebellion and resilience in the face of adversity.

This song is not just a search for others; it’s also an internal journey towards self-discovery and empowerment. ‘Ready or Not’ challenges listeners to confront their fears, their enemies, and even the systems that seek to hold them down, echoing across time as a relic of empowerment.

Stirring the Pot: The Hidden Meanings in Linguistic Rebellion

Lauryn Hill’s powerful lines wrapped in a velvet voice may sound like sweet nothings but pierced with a sharp edge. The pivoting from Al Capone to Nina Simone showcases the fluidity of identities embraced by the oppressed in their artistic expressions and the deep roots of resistance embedded within their culture, turning the act of expression into subtle defiance.

Each verse in ‘Ready or Not’ is a tapestry of hidden meanings, a lexicon of liberation coded within the vernacular of the streets and the books of history. Language becomes a playground and a battlefield, where every metaphor and simile serves as a musical chess piece in a grander scheme of cultural and political significance.

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