Wyclef Jean, If I Were President: My Haitian Experience
You have to admire Wyclef Jean for his passion and love for his home-country, Haiti, but his whole presidential campaign was a lost cause from the start (as we all know now) and it clearly just didn’t make any sense politically. On his seventh album, Wyclef chronicles his Haitian experience in an intriguing six-song EP only available across digital platforms.
Opening with the stuttering reggae of “Death Threats” the focus is on Clef’s situation and not the current state of Haitian life. Right in the first chorus he pens himself as a gallant celebrity “riding towards my enemy, before they come and get my family” – then in the next line he recites some common social jargon; “All I wanted to be was commander and chief, so when food prices rise everyone still eats. Give them some books, make sure everybody reads, illiteracy is modern days slavery”. It’s a confusing song lyrically and doesn’t bring any new insights about Haiti. As does the next track “Earthquake”, which tries to tackle the entire world’s problems over a pretty folk arrangement.
First single, “Election Time” (which sounds fantastic) brings to mind some of K’naan’s best moments, but once again, he stumbles in mumbling political talk:
“Immigration, Socialism, Capitalism, Racism
Health Care, Welfare, Seems like nobody cares (Come on)
Small business, Taxation
Unemployment, Education, My Generation”
Yes, these are issues that Haiti has to face – but what do you know about it?
What captures the spirit of this record is the revealing title track where Wyclef recalls becoming a rock star in America. Actually, the track is more about America’s melting pot and his immigration experience then about his time spent in Haiti. Don’t get me wrong, he is at the top of his game musically and is an important Haitian musician. But, My Haitian Experience sounds like a man who is feverishly reaching for his past and is no way ready to lead a country, but with the help of his foundation Yele Haiti, Wyclef is doing more good than harm. (Columbia)
Rating: 3/5 Stars