When the Fugees LP "the Score" burst on the scene a year and a half àgo, they opened up hip-hop's narrowing worldview with infectioús musicality and anti-gangsta, positive vibrations. On his new solo effort, The Carnival, guitarist and producer Wyclef Jean arguably the brains behind The Score is out to prove that he is "not only a player but a goddamn revolutionary." As the Fugees' recent wildly successful shows in Haiti proved, Wyclef Jean is pushing hip-hop into an international, multicultural milieu by mining his Caribbean roots.
For Wyclef and his native culture, the carnival is a place where "anything can happen." As proof, this LP featuring "Refugee Allstars" Lauryn Hill, Prakazrel "Pras" Michel, John Forte and Melky Sedeck offers cinematic moments on the mean streets of Brooklyn ("Year of the Dragon") and slow-and-low, Pharcyde-ish booty baiting ("To All the Girls") alongside an appearance by New Orleans veterans Neville Brothers ("Mona Lisa"). The Carnival also dips into the pool of pop history on sure-fire summer jams such as "We Trying to Stay Alive" (think the Bee Gees in da hood) and the Latin standard "Guantanamera" (which could revive salsa queen Celia Cruz's career yet again). The album's island-flavored Creole-lyric tunes, "Jaspora" and "Yelé" both of which have been hits in Haiti rock with polyrhythmic authority as well.
The Carnival's most stunning moment, though, is "Gunpowder." Wyclef becomes Bob Marley reincarnate, crooning, "We can't stop the violence/Because the war is not over/Until you can feel love, peace in your silence," with an I-Threes chorus wailing in the background. If that isn't an original hip-hop voice, what is? (RS 764/765)
(Posted: Jun 26, 1997)
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- Intro/Court/Clef/Intro - (skit)
- Guantanamera - (featuring Celia Cruz/Jeni Fujita)
- Pablo Diablo - (featuring Crazy Sam/Talent)
- Bubblegoose - (featuring Melky Sedeck)
- Prelude To "To All The Girls" (Interlude)
- To All The Girls
- Down Lo Ho (Interlude) - (featuring Talent/Will)
- Anything Can Happen
- Gone Till November
- Words Of Wisdom (Interlude)
- Year Of The Dragon - (featuring Lauryn Hill)
- Sang Fezi - (featuring Lauryn Hill)
- Fresh Interlude
- Mona Lisa - (featuring The Neville Brothers)
- Street Jeopardy - (featuring John Forte/Pras)
- Killer M.C. (Interlude) - (featuring Pras)
- We Trying To Stay Alive - (featuring John Forte/Pras)
- Gunpowder - (featuring Lauryn Hill)
- Closing Arguments (Interlude) - (featuring Talent/Will, skit)
- Enter The Carnival (Interlude)
- Yele - (featuring Lauryn Hill/Joel Servilus)
- Carnival - (featuring Sweet Mickey/Jacob Desvavieux/Jocelyn Berouard)
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