“I’m not sugar-coating anything with this Mixtape. It’s spontaneous, yet has a backstory concept that is fresh and challenging.” – Wyclef
Wyclef is hip-hop’s cultural ambassador. Not only is he a music legend, but his humanitarian efforts have made him the conscience of music. On November 10, 2009 Wyclef returns to hip-hop with the gritty release of From The Hut To The Projects To The Mansion on Carnival House via Megaforce/Sony Music.
Wyclef is a great American success story of an artist that came from Haiti to rise above all obstacles. He found success with The Fugees and numerous solo efforts, selling over 30 million albums worldwide and he was recently featured on 60 Minutes® about his efforts to help Haiti.
Wyclef is also one of the hottest music producers working with every major artist from Shakira to Santana. His 2007 written and produced “Hips Don’t Lie” featuring Shakira, was a # 1 hit around the world, further expanding his utopian multi-cultural appeal.
The people react to Wyclef like no other artist. His inextricable relationship with fans is unprecedented. In a matter of a few months, Wyclef’s Twitter following was over 1 million — in a sense, his fans are considered an extension of him.
Wyclef now returns with this brilliant hip-hop Mixtape with all new material collaborating with DJ Drama. It’s the concept mixtape he has wanted to make and features a gritty, yet melodic effort with some amazing guests such as Eve, Timbaland, Maino, Cyndi Lauper, and others.
Toussaint St. Jean, the title character of Wyclef’s new Mixtape is a persona suggested to Wyclef by his friend and collaborator. The character Toussaint is loosely based on the 18th-century Haitian revolutionary hero, Toussaint L’Ouverture, a figure who brought Haiti to significance on the international stage.
Inhabiting the role of Toussaint on these songs, Wyclef recreates himself in the spirit of a noble fighter, a man who says exactly what is on his mind. Toussaint’s rhymes hit hard, in a “militant style,” and make his words felt – and remembered.
And so what is the difference between Wyclef and Toussaint? “Toussaint is more direct,” Wyclef says. “He ain’t going to sugarcoat nothing. Whatever he’s thinking, he’s going to tell you. It’s like, I’ve still got this machete – my tongue is sharper than it’s ever been.” To help create suitable musical settings for the grisly tales Toussaint has to tell, Wyclef turned to DJ Drama. “I asked myself, ‘Who’s the toughest guy out there?’” Wyclef says. “Then I said, well, DJ Drama is pretty bad-ass. So I called him and asked if he’d be interested in doing a mixtape. He heard what I was up to and he said, ‘We gotta do a book – this is a novel!’ He got excited, and it became more like an EP than a mixtape.
The track that best captures the feelings that motivate Toussaint St. Jean is the intensely dramatic “The Streets Pronounce Me Dead,” a chronicle of Wyclef witnessing his own metaphoric funeral. It’s a commentary on Wyclef’s sense of himself as a forgotten man on the hip-hop scene, despite the groundbreaking impact of his former group, the Fugees, whose 1996 album “The Score” is the best-selling hip-hop album of all time, with sales of nearly twenty million copies worldwide . The song cites the flood of younger rappers – Akon, Lil Jon, Kanye West, among them — who have risen up as Wyclef has gone onto prominence as a solo artist and producer for the likes of Shakira, Mick Jagger, Bono and John Legend.
Tracks like “Warriorz,” “Letter From the Penn” and “Toussaint vs. Bishop” paint riveting pictures, “hood stories,” as Wyclef describes them, of street life and its consequences. The gripping storytelling in those songs recalls the raw environments in Haiti and Brooklyn from which Wyclef emerged – “from the hut to the projects to the mansion,” as he memorably puts it in “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s a story arc that these songs make compelling.
Wyclef views the message of “Toussaint St. Jean” as “not everything that appears bad is really bad, because the real bad men move in silence. So be careful what you emulate, because it’s could get you six feet deep. If you don’t see me with a gun, it doesn’t mean that the guy with the gun is badder than me. I’ve been in those communities, but you’ve got to rise past that world.”
And, as always with Wyclef, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. “Toussaint St. Jean” represents just the first step on the road to another album he intends to release in 2010 titled simply “wyclefjean.” The album will reflect a three-dimensional portrait of an artist for whom the gritty sagas of Toussaint St. Jean are just one part.
Wyclef Jean remains signed to Columbia Records/Sony Music and is set to release his self-titled LP “Wyclef Jean” in Spring 2010.
1. Interlude – From The Hut, To The Projects, To The Mansion
2. Warrior’s Anthem
3. The Streets Pronounce Me Dead
4. Slumdog Millionaire feat. Cyndi Lauper aka Luscious Loo
5. Interlude – Every Now & Then
6. Walk Away
7. More Bottles feat. Timbaland
8. You Don’t Wanna Go Outside
9. Toussaint vs. Bishop
10. Interlude – The Struggle
11. We Made It
12. Suicide Love feat. Eve
13. Letter From The Penn
14. Robotic Love
15. Gangsta Girl
16. Interlude – Tell The Kids The Truth
17. The Shottas
MP3s courtesy of RED