Wyclef Jean made his mark as a solo artist in the music industry over two decades ago. His first album, The Carnival, was released in July of 1997. It was quickly met with critical acclaim and rounded up three nominations at the Grammys.
Unlike most solo acts, Jean already had a taste of success coming from the über popular trio The Fugees. The group is comprised of Jean, singer-rapper Lauryn Hill and rapper Pras. Together, the trio released two studio albums, Blunted on Reality and The Score. The latter was released in 1996 and is hailed as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever released.
Reflecting on the release of The Carnival, Jean said his experimentation with music genres was such a departure from The Score that he was initially uncertain how it would be received. “Honestly, I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know if people are going to dig this.’ Because it’s sort of like, it was breaking all of the boundaries, too,” Jean told HipHopDX.
The “Gone Till November” emcee said he even pushed back on his label’s, Ruffenhouse Records, call for him to recreate the magic of The Fugees chart-topping album. “I was like, ‘No, I got an idea. It’s this album, it’s in four languages and it has disco, it has country et cetera,'” he recalled. “It was so far from the norm to what was considered hip hop at the time. I remember a music programmer saying, ‘Where are you going to get this played?’ And I was like, ‘Well, let’s start off by urban stations.‘ Then he was like, ‘Well, urban stations are not going to play a Spanish song.’ I said, ‘Yes, they are,'” said Jean.
He has since released nine studio albums. Earlier this month (July 1), Jean reunited onstage with Fugees band member Hill at the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. While in the “Big Easy,” he restored a bit of hope that The Fugees reunion tour would eventually happen despite it being cancelled at the top of the year.
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