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Carnival, Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Ten years after his 1997 solo debut, The Carnival, former Fugee, "Hips Don't Lie" producer, and globetrotting activist Wyclef Jean presents the sequel, subtitled Memoirs of an Immigrant and meaning it. There's a star-studded guest list, but Carnival, Vol. 2 is composed from Wyclef's personal experience and filled with his commentary on 2007's immigration crisis. He even works his own green-card story into "Selena," a lighthearted love letter to the Mexican American diva that shamelessly quotes her "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" over a light reggae beat before it morphs into a screaming loud carnival number. Many of the songs here shift genres with fascinating ease, like when the epic "Touch Your Button Carnival Jam" goes from a Black Eyed Peas-styled pop number to an intense soca workout. Then there's "Riot," a duet featuring System of a Down's Serj Tankian and dancehall dread Sizzla that utilizes a tense rock rhythm before exiting on a wet reggae beat. If it all sounds overwhelming, it's held together by Wyclef's well-crafted arrangements, and if Serj and Sizzla sound like an odd combination, try Sizzla and Minister Louis Farrakhan on violin for "Welcome to the East." Chamillionaire gets a Bollywood orchestra as a backing band, T.I.'s track is almost a hippie number, and Paul Simon croons over an R&B beat during "Fast Car," not the Tracy Chapman one but a song just as poignant. While this skillful mixing and matching of the A-list makes quite a first impression, it's the songwriting that sticks as Wyclef has upped his game. The deadbeat dad story "What About the Baby" is a convincing exchange between Wyclef and Mary J. Blige because of all the honesty written into it, and lines like "I got love for Miami all day/But if my Cubans get to stay/Why you turn my Haitians away?" add edge and weight to an album that's otherwise slick and immaculately polished. To make sure the immigration issue is always nearby, Wyclef quietly and at regular intervals references "shelter," "helping hands," and other words of refuge and protection. It's done so masterfully that it makes the couple "I'm gonna grab my guitar!" moments worth ignoring, which are the only times Wyclef's ego seems to be muscling into the mix. Otherwise, Carnival, Vol. 2 strives to give the immigration problem a face, turning those thousands of marchers seen on the news into a thousand personal stories of struggle and hope. It does so while pulsating with life and displaying an unabashed love of music that's rich, daring, and delightful.

Customer Reviews

Wyclef Jean has returned!

This is Wyclef Jean’s 5th solo album. And I have always been a huge fan of Wyclef Jean ever since he was in the fugees. This is an improvement for Wyclef. His song, Sweetest Girl has became a big hit over the past couple weeks. Lets take a closer look: Intro-Not like you’re average intro from Wyclef Jean. It is somewhat rock. 3.5\5 Riot-The song is kind of strange. Strange rapping, beats and everything. It is overall a very weird song. 4\5 Sweetest Girl-Dollar Bill-features Akon, Lil’Wanye, and Niia. That album’s 1st single. This is the album’s best song. I love it because of the way the whole song combines. Wyclef Jean did a great job. Akon did amazing as always in the chorus. I love Akon cause of his nice voice. Lil’Wanye’s verse was good to. Niia’s background part was solid. It all combined together with nice melody and rhythm. 5\5 Welcome to East-If you look at a track before this song, than you realize that this is the same thing with sizzle. On almost every album there is one person that contribute in like every song of the album! 4\5 Slow Down-features T.I. This is the second best song of the album. I like it cause Wyclef Jean did a nice job. T.I. was pure fine. This is defiantly a song that I recommend. 5\5 King & Queen-My third favorite song of the album. It features Shakira. Shakira did an awesome job. The whole song is great to. I have always been a big fan of Shakira. P.S. What is funny is Shakira featured Wyclef Jean in hips don’t lie. In this song it goes the whole other way around. 5\5 Fast Car-features Paul Simon. The song has a nice feel to it. 4.5\5 What about the baby-features Mary J. Blige. This song is awesome. It seems that all rappers do a song with Mary J. Blige. Anyway this is another great song on the album. My fourth favorite. 5\5 Hollywood meets-features Chamillionare. Anything that features Cham always sounds great. Cham did great in his verse this song is just pure fine. 5\5 Another day-Sounds like it is Nora Jone’s song. Cause she does a lot of the song instead of Wyclef. I love Norah. Great song! 5\5 Heavens in Newyork-This is one of the only songs on this album that is a solo song. 4\5 Selenna-The song is pretty strange, but I still like it. 3\5 Touch our button-it features a big number of people. I only have time to name a few. William was awesome. His verse is amazing. However it is the same this w\ Sizzla. 5\5 Outro-Like all inrtos\outro it is completely instrumental. It is more of an outro for Wycelf than the intro. However there are still a number of songs after it. 4\5 Million Voices-Another song that has a nice feel to it. 5\5 Emmanuelle-a lot slower than most of the song. I do not know why it is labeled hip hp and rap. This song is not one of those two. 2.5\5 Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) [Remix]-features Akon, Lil’Wanye, Raekwon, and Niia. Such a great song you cannot screw it up. Now even with a remix. Plus they added an extra verse by Akon. 5\5 China Whine-Love Elephant man! 4\5 Our tour-features Lucina-Another song that has kind of a nice feel to it, but it is also half weirdness. 3.5\5 Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) [George Meana and frank Estevez Fusion Remix]-Still a very great song. This remix is hot and great to dance to. Any remix of this song is good. Top 5 Songs: 1) Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) 2) Slow Down 3) King and Queen 4) What about the baby 5) All Hollywood meets Final thoughts: Wyclef Jean’s 5th solo album is defiantly the killer. This is a lot more enjoyable the Wyclef’s first few albums. And I knew it would be all along. This is defiantly a wonderful album that I will highly recommend. Wyclef has always done good work from beginning to end. I hope he continues his improvement!

I am in love with Sweetest Girl (Dollar bill)!!!

This song is amazing! I listen to it ALL THE TIME! It is inspiring, eye opening, and it has a great tune. Great job on it! I am like, the biggest fan of this song! Thanks!

No need for a "Clean" version.

Every song on this album has stayed in my playlist. All of the songs have a great beat and are plesant to listen too. While listening to this album, I noticed that my ears were not being accosted by constant cussing. When I bought the album, I noticed that there wasn't a Explicit and a Clean version, but didn't think much of it at the time.


Born: October 17, 1972 in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Lead Fugees rapper and sometime-guitarist Wyclef Jean was the first member of his group to embark on a solo career, and he proved even more ambitious and eclectic on his own. As the Fugees hung in limbo, Wyclef also became hip-hop's unofficial multicultural conscience. A seemingly omnipresent activist, he assembled or participated in numerous high-profile charity benefit shows for a variety of causes, including aid for his native Haiti. The utopian one-world sensibility that fueled Wyclef's political...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Wyclef Jean

Carnival, Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant (Deluxe Edition), Wyclef Jean
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