Friday, December 08, 2006

Albums that I Love #2: The Carnival

The Carnival

My freshman year of college, I lived just down the street from a Fred Meyer and fairly often I'd stop in there and listen to CDs in their music department. This was before you could listen to a whole CD on a machine, before .mp3's really. I'd seen the Guantanamera video on MTV, and when I'd stop in, I'd check out Wyclef Jean's inaugural solo effort, "The Carnival", just to listen to the first 30 seconds of the song.

Finally, I broke down and bought the album, and let me tell you its definitely not your typical hip-hop album. There is a broad range of music here, from the aforementioned "Guantanamera" and other more stereotypical raps like "We Trying to Stay Alive", you also get 'Clef playing the guitar, singing with R&B singers The Neville Brothers, and even throwing in some songs that aren't in English or Spanish at the end of the album (I think they're in French or Haitian or something). The skits are all pretty dumb, and oddly enough, iTunes still wants to charge you .99 for something that's only 20 seconds long. I guess it continues a tradition founded on previous Fugees albums, but frankly they don't add anything to the album. Speaking of the Fugees, it is nice to see the former Fugees showing up and playing nice, as later on there was some serious feuding going on.

Please be aware, this album does contain some explicit lyrics although not excessively so, so you may want to look for an edited version of any songs you are interested in checking out.

1. Intro/Court/Clef/Intro [Skit/Interlude]
2. Apocalypse
Despite recently getting bogged down in not really saying anything (see Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" for example), Wyclef actually can lay down some pretty good rhymes when he cares enough to try. This is a good example.

3. Guantanamera (ft. Celia Cruz & Jenni Fujita)
When I was growing up, my parents had a tape of folks songs from the 60s and Guanatanamera was on that tape. It was one of the first songs I knew that was primarily Spanish (not counting La Bamba and Feliz Navidad). I think that's what drew me to the song in the first place, but its got a lot of the classic Fugee rhymin' that I like. I had no idea who Celia Cruz was when I bought the album, but she had a huge Carnival-themed hit when I was in Argentina. Apparently she's kind of a big deal in the Latin world and has been around for a very long time.

4. Pablo Diablo (Interlude) (ft. Talent, Crazy Sam & Da Verbal Assassins)
5. Bubblegoose (ft. Melky Sedeck)
Not my favorite song, but I really love the last bit of the song where the guitar comes in. Funny how this change really makes the song sound better. Should have used that for more of the song.

6. Prelude to "To All the Girls"
7. To All the Girls
Again, a song that gets good right near the end. Not sure why they don't remix these a little better.
8. Down Lo Ho (Interlude)

9. Anything Can Happen

10. Gone Till November (ft. New York Philharmonic Orchestra)
One of the best songs on the album. Strangely the album version wasn't the same as the video version for reasons that I could never figure out.

11. Words of Wisdom (Interlude)
12. Year of the Dragon (ft. Lauryn Hill)
13. Sang Fézi
First of the non-English tracks. Funny that I like to sing along using nonsense words that I'm sure are nothing like the real songs.

14. Fresh Interlude
15. Mona Lisa (ft. The Neville Brothers)
This is a classic R&B song, and generally I'm not a fan of the whole R&B Slow Jam, but this one works for me.

16. Street Jeopardy
17. Killer MC (Interlude) (ft. Pras)
18. We Trying to Stay Alive (ft. John Forte & Pras)
Great rap song that heavily samples the BeeGees "Stayin' Alive"

19. Gunpowder
Another great song. "Do good things come to those who wait?"

20. Closing Arguments [Interlude/skit]
21. Enter the Carnival (Interlude)
At this point the album totally changes. The skits are over and apparently Wyclef just wants to put some more Caribbean-themed, non-English tracks on the album.

22. Jaspora
That said, Jaspora has a great beat and despite not understanding a word of it, its one of my favorite songs.

23. Yele
24. Carnival (ft. Jacob Desvavieux, Jocelyn Berourard & Sweet Mickey)

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