Wyclef Presents the Carnival
I’m not sure about you, but I have participated in many conversations that were more like discussions on the best albums of the 90’s . Sure we have Illmatic, The Chronic, Enter 36 Chambers, but one album that gets lost in the shuffle is the magnificent trip to Wyclef Presents “The Carnival“. Wyclef had something to prove because he was just coming off one of the biggest albums of all time, The Fugees “The Score.” He wanted to create something special without all the tough talk; make his own lane. He was able to meld together an eclectic group of songs, successfully merging hip hop, folk, disco and soul. Everyone is familiar with the Bee Gee’s “We Trying to Stay Alive”. Celia Cruz assisted with “Guantanamera “and “Gone to November”. They were all singles and the engines that propelled this album into multi platinum status. The Carnival is much more complex than those songs.
The album starts off with a smack from my mother across your face. You knew you were about to listen to something refreshingly different as soon as “Apocalypse” blared into your ears. First thing first, I heard what sounds like an Italian opera singer yodeling to me. Sounded like nothing I ever heard before in a hip hop album, but was nothing short of hypnotizing once the baseline commenced. The first couple times I listened to this song, I couldn’t even pay attention to the lyrics. The beat just put me in a trance and I pressed rewind 5 times because I couldn’t snap out of it. Sounded like the perfect soundtrack to the Marvel bad guy, Apocalypse as he obliterates the X-men and Fantastic Four in slow motion. But this isnt a magical comic book movie score, its sampled from French vocalist Danielle Licari’s “Concierto Para Una Voz”. Once I finally broke free of the spell, I started listening to the lyrics. To quote Black Rob and Joey “Whoa”.
Wyclef states in the intro that he noticed the moon turned to blood. Uh Oh. You know this song will have some apocalyptic undertones after hearing that statement. Wyclef gets biblical as the song flows on. At the end of his rhymes, Wyclef is taking racial injustices and sees them as a battle between good and evil, which signifies the end of days…..The Apocalypse.
Wyclef Jean “Apocalypse”
The beat perfectly matches the song, but Wyclef switches things up when he sings the hook the final time.
“Bubblegoose” is another standout. Wyclef tells the tale about a hustler that tries to take all the precautions to protect himself from his violent lifestyle,
“Black BMW with rims to match, windows bulletproof”
but inevitably winds up getting killed because of his lifestyle. You are in for another treat with this song. The beat perfectly matches the song, but Wyclef switches things up when he sing the hook the final time. He went from hip hop to country in 4.5 seconds and the result was amazing.
Wyclef Jean “BubbleGoose”
The Neville Brothers are enlisted to show the young bucks how its done on the beautiful “Mona Lisa”, “To All The Girls” discusses infidelity and Wyclef continues the apocalyptic theme in “Year of the Dragon” featuring Lauren Hill. They swap rhymes about what they see in their neighborhood. L Boogie stays at the Carnival for one more ride as she blesses us with her angelic singing on the hook for “Sang Fezi” while Wyclef performs this in his native language. The last 3 songs on this album are performed in Haitian Creole as well.
In between many of the songs are various interludes that play like a movie. Wyclef is on trial and there are various characters testifying against him. Wyclef may not be the best lyricist, but he was able to put together a memorable album (I like it better than The Score) that has something for everyone. The Carnival is overshadowed because of the numerous classics that the 90’s created. If you have never been to a carnival, I suggest you visit this one first.