Date: April 29
First things first: This tape is better than you think. Seriously. OK, it's super-corny, in all of the ways that Wyclef Jean is corny: It's cynically sincere, simultaneously lowest-common-denominator cheesy and completely pretentious. His lyrics are clumsy in a way that will make you do many double-takes. And, good lord, 33 tracks?
On the song "Bang Bang Bang" he laments violence in Chicago in a slow acoustic number, even while, in real life, he's currently marketing a "gat-tar," a guitar shaped like a gun. He invites Uncle Murda to guest on a song called "Pop Ya Belly Ring," of all things. There's a song called "Trap N Roll," which features Waka Flocka. There's a track called "The Smack Movement Continues," with Loaded Lux, Murda Mook, and Smack White. And there's a song called "Hip Hop" which involves Wyclef listing the name of every single hip-hop artist he can think of over the span of a few minutes.
But in spite of all of these flaws, there is art here. It's hard to explain. It's not good-because-it's-bad. It's good in spite of its flaws...and also because of them: his audacity is a massive part of its appeal. He has no fear of looking foolish (remember?); "Mid Life Crisis" isn't just what he's going through, it's the name of a song on this album (and one that features Maino, no less). He's unintentionally funny, but you kind of root for him anyway, especially when he drops the Whitney Houston dubplate that has her singing his name during an a capella rendition of "It's Not Right, But It's Okay." You can level all kinds of criticisms at the guy, but at the end of the day, this stuff knocks in spite of itself, absurd as it is. —David Drake