Because he is (or, like, was) a Fugee, seems to genuinely believe in the future of our children and once cut a joint with multimedia titan The Rock, there's a tendency to forgive Wyclef Jean for the more ill-advised extremes of his apparent mission to make music appealing to all humans -- like cutting a joint with The Rock, for example. Jean's last two albums, 2000's The Ecleftic and 2002's Masquerade, have made forgiving him hard: Introducing Kenny Rogers to Pharoahe Monch is only a good idea if you've got something in mind besides the introduction.
So it's a nice surprise (especially given his record-label woes and the continued intra-Fugees backbiting) that The Preacher's Son, Jean's fourth solo album, manages to recapture some of the freewheeling vim of 1997's brilliant The Carnival; like the Black Eyed Peas' recent Elephunk, this guest-heavy disc staggers excitedly through any number of chart-friendly styles, not always convincingly but rarely without the kind of enthusiasm that requires real grumpiness to deny.
Not that it starts that way: Following a perfunctory intro from comedian Steve Harvey (who I'm not entirely sure actually heard the album before shouting out its groove and truth), "Industry" posits a world in which "Puffy and Suge was roommates from college" and "Benzino shook hands with Eminem," but doesn't offer anything meaningful about that world -- more wishful-thinking boundary-breaking unburdened by a point (or, more important, a sense of humor).
Then the fun starts: the Timbaland-produced "Party to Damascus," which resembles an acoustic "Get Ur Freak On"; the trip-hop trifle "Celebrate," co-starring Patti LaBelle as Martina Topley-Bird; "Three Nights in Rio," a beachside jam not even Carlos Santana can drown; a tempo-shifting dance-hall goof called "I Am Your Doctor" that employs Wayne Wonder and Elephant Man. Look too hard for a thread connecting the brightly colored swatches and The Preacher's Son may unravel, since as usual I can't claim to grasp Jean's concept. But for once his musical eclecticism is its own reward.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.
More Music News
- Heritage Hump Day: Otto D - "Why Should I Care"
Fri., Dec. 4, 7:30pm
Fri., Dec. 4, 8:00pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Dec. 6, 3:00pm
- Rising Sun Daughter's Grace Rolland Had to Leave the Desert to Appreciate It
- Phoenix Singer-Songwriter Cait Brennan Thrives in the Face of Adversity