Tuesday, 4 January 2011
REVIEW: WYCLEF JEAN: IF I WERE PRESIDENT: MY HAITIAN EXPERIENCE-EP
The trails from Wyclef Jean's campaign tell many stories.
From refugee to Fugee survivor. From musician to humanitarian and from ambassador to presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean has done it all for his native Haiti. A nation always close to his heart and influence. Even with all his success in America and his hip-hop and Hollywood pals, 'Clef has never forgotten home. Through thick and thin, earthquakes and denied presidency and from Pras to Sean Penn, Wyclef has remained constant to Haiti. The place is always in his heart and no debate or requirement can question that.
From scoring hits with Pras and Lauryn Hill and his own solo classics, Wyclef has always rapped, sang and preached awareness of his homeland. From his carnivals to his ecleftic work this preachers son has made the need to speak out about his homeland his gospel. Even his more recent albums, 'Welcome To Haiti Creole 101' and 'Toussaint St. Jean (From The Hut, To The Projects To The Mansion)' have been works of inspiration for his troubled nation and it's people.
It almost seemed perfect that Haiti's favourite son would run, win and lead, but this change was too good to be true. This setback won't stop the singer/rapper from carrying on in his bid to do everything he can for his nation however and it all starts again with the EP 'If I Were President: My Haitian Experience'.
This 5 track gem reads like a story with Jean even adding some pre-track narration to the design. After releasing the healing 'Hold On' in the wake of the Haiti earthquakes last year, Wyclef continues to lead and raise spirits with the single, 'Election Time'. The inspirational rally cry is a positive step forward. Complete with it's video, packaged on this digital set, Wyclef shows the natural beauty and ugly truths of a terrific but troubled nation. With kids joining in on the chorus, 'Clef looks to inspire everyone with his 'I Can'. His influential lyrics, "Alternative energy or oil in your SUV/Tell me what your looking for, we about to have a poll/Gun Control, Infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturer/Hip Hop Be My Culture/Tell me what you think about us" carry this inspiration.
The EP begins with, 'Haitian Experience' an epic and detailed track that tells us of how Wyclef came to America, his own turmoil and his respect for his current and home nation. Jean references everything from the Queen to September 11Th on this social commentary. He even shows his love for fellow humanitarian Angelina Jolie and all her efforts.
The socially sombre and conscious track 'Earthquake' follows. As Wyclef recognises Haiti's troubles all whilst trying to help and uplift. Jean also uses this warning song to educate the world, singing and preaching the need to look after the worlds climate.
As dawn calls time on this EP, things get darker, but still as ever potent, and powerful. On 'Death Threat's' Wyclef channels The Notorious B.I.G., even mirroring the late rappers 'My Downfall' pre-interlude from Biggie's 'Life After Death' album. With 'Threats' Wyclef shows just how much his voice and dedication have cost him.
As Wyclef takes on some Bob Marley inspiration for the final, deep cut he doesn't take a day off from trying to make the world better, willing to pay the cost in full. Jean brings his trademark wails and his native tongue on 'Prison For The K'. The emotion and meaning over beautiful guitars needs no translation. We get the message.
Years ago Wyclef wrote the incredible concept song, 'If I Were President' for the 'Welcome To Haiti' album. The song has had many meanings and has served as a brilliant, yesteryear precursor to this EP. With 'The Haitian Experience' Wyclef doesn't just deliver a solid EP or his take on how his campaign went. Moreover he paints us a picture of his nations beauty and it's needs. He shows us just how great it is with everything it's been through and what we all need to do. Still leading for his followers, the icon does this all in just five tracks. Now we really must listen! TIM DAVID HARVEY.