Wyclef Jean - Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee
Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee
I loved The Fugees even though I was really young when The Score came out. Everyone knows what a palpable shift in culture The Fugees caused which is why I think that Wyclef has been able to hang around for this long. It has always felt like He was around when great music was created and credited by osmosis, but never felt like He was the real genius behind it all. This is of course just my opinion as many herald Wyclef as one of the all time greats. There is plenty of genre bending and guitar playing on this latest edition of The Carnival, it's third installment but also comes with some of the political and financial issues Clef has been involved in lately. Yet the message of empowerment and strength in one's self is peppered throughout the record like on "Borrowed Time" one of Wyclef's better singing efforts. However throughout the record you will notice this push of vaulted humility and forceful ego. I guess this is a constant battle every person always has raging inside of them, but here it feels more self serving. Wyclef will be who He needs to be in order to impress whomever is in the room and that often leads to people finding him... frustrating. In New York it seems like his legendary status is already cemented with many, but that sentiment doesn't quite find it's way out of the tri-state area. "Fela Kuti" sounds like you may expect, big booming African rhythms and Wyclef's shaking delivery but it just feels like filler, as does much of the album.
Let's take "Warrior" for example: It is a reggae inspired track as is Wyclef modus operandi but it is such well worn territory not only in the genre but for Wyclef himself. Why make another song about being a spiritual warrior, haven't we gotten the his point after more than 20 years? The times when He slips into a more Hip Hop stance like on "Shotta Boys" feel like He's chasing a style that He really doesn't really understand or participate in. "What Happened to Love?" produced by The Knocks is the real bright spot on the album and the song feels age appropriate for Wyclef yet it still pops. There just is so little to really move the needle here, it some things that work a bit and others that just don't at all. "Carry On" is an overly emotional slog again relaying the message of self empowerment that He has beaten you over the head with about 1,000 times at this point. Nothing about this record makes you want to come back to it, or drop everything because you have to hear that line again. For some who have Wyclef on a pedestal this may be the next progression in his career, but if We honestly take a look there really isn't much to celebrate about this record at all.
4.0 out of 10