It has been quite a year for rapper/musician Wyclef Jean, who released his second extended play album, J’ouvert, named after the Caribbean street festival, as a precursor to his third installment to his Carnival series. His eighth studio album, Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee was released back in September and features LunchMoney Lewis, The Knocks, Emeli Sandé, Teddy Riley, and comedian D.L. Hughley to name a few.
Recently, the 48-year-old Haitian rapper/musician returned with a brand new mixtape. But, it’s not what you may expect—the album is an entirely introspective look at Wyclef Jean and the many modern musicians who inspire him.
The mixtape opens with a brief introduction from DJ Khaled who remixes the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper “Maria, Maria” (1999) featuring outtakes and all new verses from the songwriter/producer. In his new verse, Wyclef mentions how Khaled sampled the Carlos Santana track on his new single “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller.
Arguably, the one unnecessary track might be the cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA,” which many consider a work of art… meaning it would be much better off left untouched. However, it is the thought that counts, and it’s pretty cool that Wyclef finds Kendrick to be so inspirational to him. Kind of reaffirms what we already know.
The mixtape also features tributes to Whitney Houston, with a cover of her song “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” and the Fugees, a personal letter to Pras Michél, Lauryn Hill, Robbie Shakespeare (bass), producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, and John Forté (vocals, producer, drum programming), acknowledging the impossibility of recreating an album as perfect as The Score (1996).
Wyclef also shows that he can get down with some trap beats on the track, “Camel to Ferraris” feat. T-Baby & WavieBoi D; he voices his opinion of the American legal system and rapper Meek Mill, who is currently serving time for violating probation, on the track “Chain Gang (Free Meek Mill)”; and proves he can keep up with today’s pop/dance music sound on the track “What Happened to Love (Afro Beats) feat. Spotless.
Some of the more notable tributes include original renditions of modern rap tracks such as, “Killed Before” by Young Thug feat. Future, “Ultimate Gangsta” by Giggs feat. 2 Chainz & DYFL, and “Real Hitta” by Kodak Black & Plies. The mixtape also includes tracks inspired by Slatt, A$AP Ferg, and Drake.
LISTEN: WYCLEF JEAN – ‘INSPIRED BY’