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Wyclef Jean Carnival, Volume II: Memoirs of an Immigrant Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

It’s definitely been worth the wait.

Anton Leaver 2007

In the musical equivalent of a footballer’s testimonial, Wyclef Jean has scanned his little black book of musical talent to celebrate ten years since the release of his debut album, The Carnival.

The stellar line-up on Carnival II is much more than a few chums turning up to pat their cohort on the back for good service though – and no-one in their right mind would put Paul Simon, Akon, Serj Tankian from System Of A Down and on the same album if they didn’t have a cunning plan to make it work. Heck, he even manages to make the stuffiest of one-trick ponies shine: Do not adjust your stereo – that really is Norah Jones on the pretty heart-tugger "Any Other Day".

As one of the better producers and performers around, it’s no surprise that he pulls off something pretty ambitious here. The gap from Serj’s dramatic rock on “Riot (Trouble Again)” to Akon, Lil’ Wayne and Niia’s brazen hip hop on “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” should be too vast to cross. Wyclef manages to blend them and the others without it sounding like he’s shoehorning in as many genres as possible in presenting his view of immigration and life in America.

On "King And Queen" Latin temptress, Shakira, returns the favour to the man who worked with her on her smash "Hips Don't Lie" and while it won't reach the heights of that, the way he glues his reggae rap to her rock ballad is the work of a man who knows what he's doing.

"What About The Baby" stands out, although using Mary J Blige on an emotion-fuelled track about domestic violence is as sure a thing you can do in music, with her sassy vocal as impassioned as ever. 'I wanna apologise for makin' you wait so long for the sequel', he says before Mary does her stuff: It’s definitely been worth the wait.

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