Rhyme&Review: Wyclef Jean ≠ Will.I.Am

13 11 2009

Who?

Wyclef Jean, formerly of The Fugees, one of arguably the most important hip-hop musicians of the ’90s. Who’s arguing that? I am, damnit. Forget all of the amazing shit he did with Lauryn Hill and Pras for a second — The man made The Carnival. The Carnival is one of the best albums I have ever heard, and contains one of the five songs that made me love hip-hop over everything else, “Gone till November”. (Make sure when you listen to that, you get the album version, not the radio single.)

Anyway, besides The Carnival, The Ecleftic was an underrated album, The Carnival, Vol. II wasn’t awful and Welcome to Haiti Creole 101 put Haiti in the spotlight. I was a history major, and I dabbled in Haitian history from time to time and let me tell you something: Fuck George W. Bush about all that “Haiti is a failed state”, Haiti is an amazing country that got royally fucked by every white person on the entire planet. Literally. All of them. In fact, here’s some trivia nuggets that’ll tide you over.

  • Haiti is the only country where a successful slave rebellion occurred. Ever. In the history of the world.
  • Haiti was responsible for 2/3rds of France’s exports around the time when Napoleon came to power.
  • Napoleon sent over 300,000 troops to Haiti after the rebellion kicked-off, which was one of the main reasons the Russians were able to defeat him (though there are plenty of other reasons)
  • Napoleon sold some spare land he had when the Haitian revolt succeeded, because he was going to use that land to support Haiti’s agricultural production. That land? The Louisiana Purchase. AKA: Haiti made America what it is today.

Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion

There isn’t a ton to say here. It’s a mixtape, so it’s not going to get rave reviews from me. The name Toussaint St. Jean is a combo of his own name and Toussaint L’Overture, who was like the Martin Luther King combined with Ghandi combined with Jesus combined with Spider-Man of the Haitian revolution. When the French were trying to arrest him, he once said, “Your ship cannot hold a man like me.”

Bad. Ass.

HOWEVER, Wyclef has given us a few great little nuggets of greatness, especially enlisting the help of, that’s right, CYNDI LAUPER, to sing the chorus of “Slumdog Millionaire”. God knows I never thought I would type that sentence in my life. The song’s not bad either. I dig it, even though Lauper sounds like a chain-smoking, union dockworker. The whole album has a mix between island, laid back sound and gritty-ish street-life hip-hop. Interest dynamic if nothing else.

A lot of the album, like “The Streets Pronouce me Dead”, Wyclef voices his frustration that youngins have no idea who he is and continually confused him with Will.I.Am. I got no problem with that. He’s kind of like a rich man’s DMX, people are quick to forget how effing important that man is (although Wyclef did a better job of not turning himself into a compete joke like the Dark Man).

Listen, it ain’t great. But there’s enough worth listening to to make it worthy of a spin or two.

So Now What?

Use this small window of Wyclef relevancy to tell your friend’s little brothers and sisters to go out into the world and listen to The Carnival. Wyclef might not have it in him to make hit records anymore, but that doesn’t mean we should forget how boombastic The Carnival was.

I remember when I was in high school I used to have a crush on this girl, and every time I drove to pick her up I would blast “Mona Lisa” in the car. Now whenever I hear that song, I think of a 1995 green Volkswagon Jetta and this PYT I once knew. Besides that, I still can’t bring myself to skip “Gone till November” when it pops up on the shuffle. Can’t do it. It’s a masterpiece.

For serious, everyone take three or four minutes of your day today and go listen to “Gone till November”. You’ll be glad you did.

Wyclef Jean – Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion

1. From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion (Interlude) – N/A
2. Warrior’s Anthem – ★★★
3. The Streets Pronounce me Dead – ★★★
4. Slumdog Millionaire (feat. Cyndi Lauper) – ★★★
5. Every Now and Then (Interlude) – N/A
6. Walk Away –
7. More Bottles (feat. Timbaland) –
8. You Don’t Wanna go Outside – ★★★
9. Toussaint vs. Bishop –
10. The Struggle (Interlude) – N/A
11. We Made It – ★★★
12. Suicide Love (feat. Eve) – ★★★
13. Letter From the Pen –
14. Robotic Love – ★★★
15. Gansta Girl (feat. Lil Kim) – ★★★
16. Tell the Kids the Truth –
17. The Shottas – ★★★

Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion Total ★: 27
Toussaint St. Jean: From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion ★ Ratio: 1.92

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