Flows like a butterfly, stings with his beats.
That Muhammad Ali-inspired mantra could be an entirely appropriate catchphrase for Wyclef Jean and his new album, "The Ecleftic - 2 Sides II A Book," the much-hyped follow-up to his 1997 record, "The Carnival," 'Clef's first solo foray outside his group responsibilities with the Fugees.
Even though Jean's "Gone Till November" was the first solo track from a member of the Fugees to hit the top of the pop charts, bandmate Lauryn Hill upped the ante with her own record, 1998's "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill," which some say contained veiled songs about her past history and strained relationship with Jean.
Jean quickly addresses the shadow of the Fugees early on in "The Ecleftic" with "Where Fugees At?" in which he openly calls out Hill and Pras to show up in the band's Booga Basement studio and get to work.
Wyclef is careful not to get caught up in making "The Ecleftic" any sort of musical reply to "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill," instead unveiling an album as colorful and varied as Jean's own musical tastes, fusing elements of country, drum-n-bass, Motown soul, and classic rock into his own hip-hop rainbow.
Like Ali, Jean confidently struts through the record, often taking as much time to praise his impressive lyrical and guitar-playing skills as he does actually demonstrating them. But the skills are most definitely there, as evidenced by such tracks as "911," a heart-wrenching ballad featuring Mary J. Blige; a stirring cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"; and "Diallo," an ode to the West African immigrant gunned down by New York City police in February 1999.
MTV News' Elon Johnson caught up with the irrepressible Wyclef Jean recently, and in between boasts, he discussed the making and the meaning of "The Ecleftic," the sort of film roles he gets offered and routinely rejects, and his falling out with Canibus, his former rap protege.