Wyclef Jean is set to return with his highly anticipated new record, "The Ecleftic," in August, and like his 1997 solo debut, "Carnival," Jean's second album features several guest stars, musical disses of other artists, and even a surprising cover choice.
For "Carnival," Jean reworked the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" into his own "We Trying To Stay Alive" and covered the traditional Caribbean tune, "Guantanamera," for the record's crossover hit single.
On "The Ecleftic," Jean gives Pink Floyd's 1975 "Wish You Were Here" a carefully paced hip-hop workout, a treatment that underscores the original song's spirit of disassociation and gives Jean a chance to demonstrate some of his guitar-plucking skills.
"Basically, guitar has been my hobby since I was little," Jean told the MTV Radio Network, "and 'Wish You Were Here,' if you can play that on guitar, you were officially on your way to being a good guitar player, as far as rock was concerned.
"Wish You Were Here" [RealAudio] was written by Pink Floyd as a means of addressing the estrangement between the band and its original guitarist, Syd Barrett, who had been dismissed from the group in 1968. But Wyclef indicated that the cover was not intended to draw a similar comparison between himself and his Fugees bandmates, even though he pretty much calls Pras and Lauryn Hill out on "Where Fugees At," the first song on "The Ecleftic."
Despite the musical posturing, Wyclef told MTV not to believe the hype and predicted that there would, in fact, be another Fugees album in the future.
"I definitely spoke to them [since finishing 'The Ecleftic']," he said, "and I don't see that there won't be [another] Fugees record, unless one of the members call a press conference and goes, 'I am no longer a member of this group,' and then the group is broken up.
Jean has just released a video for a new single, "It Doesn't Matter," featuring guest vocals from WWF star The Rock. The CD single version of "It Doesn't Matter" will be issued on July 4.
Other guests who turn up on "The Ecleftic," currently due out on August 22, include Mary J. Blige, Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, and Earth, Wind & Fire.