From the VIP section, I almost didn't recognize him when he appeared on stage. Gone were the familiar flowing locks and thick beard; in their place, a nearly bald head and a neatly trimmed goatee. Without the hair his prominent eyes stood out in a smiling face of smooth chocolate skin. Donning a black and white jacket and matching white hat he stood on stage looking young enough to still be Blunted on Reality. That's the Fugee's debut album released back in 1994 for those of you that may have forgotten.
Facing the intimate crowd of Yahoo! employees, fans, and other invited guests, Wyclef instantly broke the corporate ice with a brief mix of songs from old albums. Then he introduced the music from the new one, Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, along with two new artists featured on the album. In no time at all, the once lukewarm audience heated up and began grooving to his unique blend of Hip Hop, reggae, pop, R&B, soca, and other island rhythms. By show's end, we were all caught up in the rhythms of a carnival styled finale complete with masks, led by none other than Wyclef himself standing high above the audience thanks to nearby fans and a studio railing.
The next day he performed at AOL studios in Beverly Hills. While waiting for the shoot to end I hung out in the green room with Wyclef's close knit crew. Relating to one another like the family they genuinely are, the guys effortlessly switched between English, French, and a Haitian dialect joking mercilessly about work, the crew, and personal lives. My two semesters of high school French was hardly any help to catch everything, but I laughed too at what I could understand. Just hearing them speak was a musical experience.
Once the taping was over, I talked one-on-one with Wyclef not just about the new album, Carnival II, but also about what matters most to him, how he relates to young people facing societal challenges, and his new contest for creative bloggers.
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To learn more about Wyclef, Yele, and the contest for bloggers visit Wyclef.com by clicking HERE. A link to his Myspace page is there too. THE ALBUM RELEASE DATE IS DECEMBER 4th. You can preorder it on the right through the Amazon store or just check the 2nd page of my I RECOMMEND widget. Truly, I do recommend this album for anyone that loves different styles of music, real instrumentation, genuine performance, and great lyrical content--all the things that aren't in heavy rotation on radio right now. Really, where else could you find Norah Jones, Shakira, Mary J. and hard core Hip Hop stars Lil' Wayne, Akon, and T.I. all on the same album? Nowhere! So cop Carnival II now or December 4th!
Merci beaucoup! Wyclef, Charmont, Brian, et mademoiselle Tanya.