Fugees member Wyclef Jean covers classic-rock band Pink Floyd and collaborates with professional wrestler The Rock on his second solo album,The Ecleftic 2 Sides II a Book, which leads the pack of rap albums due Tuesday.
The Ecleftic follows Wyclef's 1997 double-platinum solo album, The Carnival, which featured the Grammy-nominated single "Gone Till November" (RealAudio excerpt).
Elemental soul group Earth, Wind & Fire, the Product G&B, Mary J. Blige, MB2, Melky Sedeck (comprising Wyclef's sister Melky and brother Sedeck) and African pop singer Rousseau O'Doul also appear on the new disc.
Wyclef previously teamed with the Product G&B on Santana's hit single "Maria Maria" (RealAudio excerpt), which Wyclef co-wrote and produced.
His groove-packed single with the World Wrestling Federation's The Rock, "It Doesn't Matter," has been climbing Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart. It's at #39 this week.
As he did on The Carnival with "Guantanamera" and the Fugees' The Score with "Killing Me Softly," Wyclef revisits another tune from the past, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (RealAudio excerpt of Pink Floyd version), on The Ecleftic.
"Guitar has been my hobby since I was little," he said in June, "and 'Wish You Were Here' if you [could] play that on guitar, you were officially on your way to being a good guitar player, as far as rock was concerned."
The Fugees' 1996 album, The Score, was a critically acclaimed rap album that has sold 11 million copies; it included the trio's hit cover of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" (RealAudio excerpt of Fugees version). But as the they pursued solo albums, they acknowledged friction in the group. Lyrics on "Lost Ones," from Lauryn Hill's 1998 solo LP, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, have been interpreted as anti-Wyclef.
"I definitely spoke to them [since finishing The Ecleftic]," Wyclef said in June, "and I don't see that there won't be [another] Fugees record, unless one of the members calls a press conference and goes, 'I am no longer a member of this group.' "
In addition to his solo work, Wyclef has written or produced songs for Destiny's Child and Whitney Houston.
Albums from KRS-One, Brooklyn, N.Y.-born lyricist Divine Styler, up-and-coming rapper Lil' Zane and Philadelphia underground act Ram Squad also will show up in stores this week.
Lil' Zane, who made a name for himself with his rhyming on 112's sexually charged "Anywhere," will try to tempt rap fans with Young World: The Future. 112 croons on the 17-year-old's single "Callin' Me" (RealAudio excerpt), now at #2 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart.
KRS-One's greatest-hits set, A Retrospective, includes tracks from his solo career as well as his classic old-school band, Boogie Down Productions. The album includes "Outta Here" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Black Cop" (RealAudio excerpt).
Divine Styler's Word Power 2, which follows up the rapper's 1989 debut, Word Power, originally was released by the DTX label in 1998 and will be reissued by Mo Wax/Beggars Banquet with four new songs "The Grand Design," "Contact 1," "Contact 2" and "Sound Quest."
The compilation Deep Porn mixes pop and rap stars and women with silicone enhancements. In addition to the cheesecake pictures that illustrate the liner notes, Deep Porn offers porn stars collaborating with the likes of Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs, AK 1200 and funk master George Clinton. A Kid Rock cut, "F.M.A." (RealAudio excerpt), features sizzling guitar work with X-rated starlet Midori moaning in the background.