Why are Wyclef’s albums so fucking long? I don’t know the answer but it feels like it’s not just a case of the ’90s album bloat. Here is a man with a lot of pretty decent material (arguably more than on his debut) who doesn’t seem to know how to present it to the world. (Would it kill him to cut the worst? Would it kill him to save some of it for next time?)
There are fewer skits this time out, which is like some kind of miracle. In retrospect I feel like my review of The Carnival was overly kind given that he seems to have focused himself a little bit on this record. Relatively speaking of course. There are fewer skits and more songs, but there is still just too much stuff.
There are some pretty big guest appearances on this one but I’m not sure they work that well. Certainly the Kenny Rogers and Rock guest appearances don’t work for me. Mary J. Blige and Earth, Wind and Fire fair better in my eyes.
There are some catchy songs here. And I can’t help but like some of his lyrics. I find him funny despite myself (and certainly funnier than on his debut). And I continue to enjoy how he calls out gangsta rappers for their false posturing about how tough they are.
But, like others have noted, he might think a little too highly of himself. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he’s serious or he’s joking. That can be a virtue but, when you’re not in on it, it can also be annoying. The thing everyone points to is his infamous guitar solo. Is he telling other rappers he can actually play an instrument? Or is he making fun of his rudimentary chops by amping up the braggadocio to 11 by referencing some of the greatest guitarists in history during the solo? There are multiple moments like this on the album – though just about all subtler than the solo – and how you feel about Wyclef and this record likely depends in part upon whether or not you think he’s kidding.
I tend to think he’s kidding but I can’t be sure. Regardless, the album is too damn long and then there are a few missteps that could have been omitted.