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Presenting a Daring Solo 'Carnival' Ride : Wyclef Jean, "Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival," Ruffhouse/Columbia. (***)

ALBUM REVIEW / POP

June 21, 1997|CONNIE JOHNSON

Jean's vision of himself as a musical revolutionary doesn't exactly jibe with the shout-out he gives to Armani and Calvin Klein on his liner notes. But then revolutionaries are sometimes as contradictory as politicians. If Jean has his way about it, they'll apparently be better-dressed too.

The Fugees member's ambitious stance on this solo project takes him from the symphony to the streets, and the classical underpinnings of "Apocalypse" actually serve to give that track a funkier bite. Be it the roughneck swagger of "Jaspora" or fellow Fugee Lauryn Hill's seductively ominous purr on "Gunpowder," there is much on this record to recommend.

Hill will probably always be the key element in the Fugees' winning formula, and a solo album by Jean won't change that. But it was still a prudent move on his part. As captivating as Hill is, this record proves that the group's success is due to the sum of all its parts. The future of the Fugees may be even stronger as a result.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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