Wyclef Jean returns this week with his latest Columbia solo album, "The Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant." Following the pattern of his previous albums, the artist marshals the creative forces ofWyclef Jean returns this week with his latest Columbia solo album, "The Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant." Following the pattern of his previous albums, the artist marshals the creative forces of another diverse guest lineup, including Paul Simon, T.I., Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Akon, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, Lil Wayne and Shakira.
"Carnival II" marks the Fugees frontman's return to Columbia/Sony and the 10-year anniversary of his solo debut, "Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival Featuring Refugee Allstars." Acknowledging that "Carnival II" is similar to its predecessor, he attributes its release 10 years later as happenstance. "I didn't plan it like that," he insists. "I was just inspired by Haiti and the fusion of culture around the world."
But it was Jean's explosive pairing with Shakira on the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Hips Don't Lie" that signaled what Jean terms his second wind of inspiration. He had spent the greater part of the last three years doing charity work in his native Haiti. During that period, he lost his father but welcomed a daughter.
"I heard taking some time off can be dangerous in the music industry," Jean says with a laugh. "But I always have my pulse on music, even in Haiti. The vibe was so strong that when I got back to America, it made me see things differently. It was like, 'You can still do this. You can freak with this young kid generation because they're checking for you' -- the ones in this generation who are merging sounds like T-Pain, T.I. and Lil Wayne."