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Masquerade
     

Masquerade

4.8 7
by Wyclef Jean
 

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On his third LP, Masquerade, Wyclef Jean updates the rock and world music-infused sound of his two previous solo albums,Carnival and Ecleftic: Two Sides of a Book, with a more streetwise East Coast rap sound. The disc's pirate-radio theme drives home Clef's bid for

Overview

On his third LP, Masquerade, Wyclef Jean updates the rock and world music-infused sound of his two previous solo albums,Carnival and Ecleftic: Two Sides of a Book, with a more streetwise East Coast rap sound. The disc's pirate-radio theme drives home Clef's bid for underground credibility, and while the irrepressively inventive Haitian isn't about to buckle down and embrace hip-hop orthodoxy, there's enough rhyme talent to silence the doubters. Clef spouts positive lyrics such as, "Put the fire arms away/Cause we don't want no confrontation," on the Wu-Tang Clan-reminiscent "Peace God," with its Crouching Tiger-inspired sample and pays his respects to fallen rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac, R&B princess Aaliyah, and WTC victims on his reggae-tinged version of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." He even recruits hard-rock Brooklyn rap crew M.O.P. on the sparsely arranged, visceral title track. Using the fictitious radio station HOT 93.1 (significant because his father passed away on 9/3/01) as a platform for his urban tales, the former Fugee frontman travels through the "PJ's" (slang for the projects) on the piano-and-breakbeat-ridden track followed by a chorusless lyrical assault "80 Bars," on which Clef's clever rhymes are pushed to the fore. Showing, however, that he hasn't completely lost his pop sensibilities, Wyclef is joined by Claudette Ortiz -- of his protégés City High -- on the hip-hop soul track "Two Wrongs," while '60s icon Tom Jones updates his hit "What's New, Pussycat?," reimagined by Clef as a shout-out to ladies of all shapes and sizes. With its 22 thought-provoking tracks, Masquerade reveals Clef's depth and range as an artist and producer -- even when he's trying to limit his creative excesses, it seems that Jean's got more ideas in the tips of his dreads then most rappers have in their whole head. Now who's the real ghetto superstar?

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Wyclef Jean prides himself on having a vision, which he does. Few of his peers are as determined to appeal to as broad an audience as a possible, dabbling in everything from ragga to sugary pop, tying it all together as a self-conscious "big statement." His ambition has been clear since The Score, if not the Fugees' debut, and with each of his post-Fugees solo projects, he's worked with the same basic template -- a lot of pop, a lot of hip-hop, reggae, and worldbeat touches, lots of social consciousness, a little does of party anthems, all produced with enough gloss and melody to reach a wide audience, yet with enough NPR sensibility to bring in the serious-minded progressives, no matter their age. If anything, he perhaps tipped a little bit too close to the pop last time around, letting Kenny Rogers in for a new version of "The Gambler," so the first part of his third album, Masquerade, feels like a bit of an overcorrection, as he toughens up the beats, brings in the hard(er) rappers, and aims to the street. Then, after the point has been made, it settles into a Marley-esque reggae groove, before easing into pop for a while, then winding up back in Marley territory with "War No More." Throughout it all, Jean's musical skill is impressive and most of this long, 20-track album is quite pleasurable, but his skills as a recordmaker waver on occasion. The primary problem is that Wyclef wants to be everything to all people, so he'll hit too hard on the hip-hop, then back way up and invite Tom Jones into the studio for a new, not very good, version of "What's New, Pussycat," while rewriting Frankie Valli ("Oh What a Night") and Dylan ("Knocking on Heaven's Door," which now contains shoutouts "to Biggie Smalls and 2Pac...to my people in the twin towers") with equal abandon. He pushes too hard on sermonizing, no matter if it's pompous pleas to the ghettos or heartfelt laments (a spoken tribute to his recently passed father, "War No More," a "Redemption Song"-styled protest song with the unforgettable line, "this looks like a scene from the movie Star Wars"), which offsets the lighter tracks. Instead of sounding generous and openhearted, it's a bit muddled and confusing, especially when taken all at once -- but when isolated in parts, or heard in passing, it's an enjoyable record.
Vibe - Jon Caramanica
Wyclef is a great filter of styles, and his albums have consistently posed the question of what hip-hop might feel like when it hits middle age -- after its angst, ego, and indiscretions have lulled, and its ears have opened up.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/05/2008
Label:
Imports
UPC:
5099750785423
catalogNumber:
1401592
Rank:
133699

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wyclef Jean   Primary Artist,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Yami Bolo   Vocals
Robert Aaron   Keyboards,Saxophone
Mary Brown   Background Vocals
Butch Cassidy   Vocals
Donald Guillaume   Drums
Andy Grassi   Overdubs
Felipe Luciano   Vocals
M.O.P.   Vocals
Teflon   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Peter Wade   Overdubs
Corey Rooney   Strings
Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis   Bass
Miri Ben-Ari   Violin
Governor   Vocals,Background Vocals
Bumpy Knuckles   Vocals
Big E   Vocals
Claudette Ortiz   Vocals
Erick Edwards   Vocals
Jennifer Hamady   Vocals,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Kevin Myers   Engineer
Teflon   Producer
Wyclef Jean   Producer,Executive Producer,Score
Corey Rooney   Producer
Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis   Producer,Executive Producer
Julian Alexander   Art Direction
Farel Jean   Executive Producer
Evan Rossiter   Engineer
Jessica Harley   Executive Producer

Customer Reviews

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Masquerade 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
wyclef is tha best artist i ever knew, and his new single just prove that he's different from all the other rap n' hip hop artists. Now that i bought the new cd, im gonna be in my world with wyclef for a few dayz... peace, roxanne
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wyclef is one of the most talented artists that i've ever heard of. I'm not lying when I say that Wyclef is one of the hottest artists to come. He is musical and at the same time he keep it real and he dosen't forget where he comes from. Wyclef is going to always represent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ok maybe it does, maybe you can find some tupac, krs and rakem record somewere thats better then dis but it really is tha bomb tough
Guest More than 1 year ago
never heard no music better...pjs...peace god...you say keep it gangsta...masquerade...80 bars...daddy MY FAVORITE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hey Wyclef is real cool, I really love two wrongs with Claudette Ortiz that song is hittin', He's it for-real>>>>>>>>>>>
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best cd i have herd for a long time.From the start to the end really new stuff i love EVERY track there is nothing else to say GREAT WORK WYCLEF you should be proud of urself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wyclef Jean tells it like it is on this album. It's the age old cry of an artist with a conscience. He's trying to get through to how rappers are fooling themselves and how the music industry forces them too.