It’s hard to believe that Wyclef Jean’s ‘The Carnival Featuring Refugee Allstars‘ is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. Even harder to believe, one of the best selling hip hop albums of all-time, Fugees‘ ‘The Score,’ turns 21 this year! As you’ll read in today’s Essential Wax, the influence of Reggae and Dancehall are the lifeblood of Wyclef Jean; powerful performances of Bob Marley‘s “Redemption Song” to the protest anthem “If I Was President,” drips with the spirit of rebel music. From Bob Marley’s “Exodus” to Sizzla‘s “Black Woman and Child,” Wyclef gives us a brief look into the records that defined him – in his words; “Reggae and dancehall to me is like Blues and R&B. The foundation is reggae; the pulse of new generation is dancehall. Both of those genres greatly influenced me because in order to know where you’re going, you gotta know where you come from.” And exactly where is Wyclef going? He recently released two singles “What Happened To Love” and “Fela Kuti” both from his upcoming LP ‘Carnival III’ which you can pre-order on vinyl HERE.
It’s no coincidence that Wyclef is joining us for Essential Wax as we’re paying tribute to one Jamaica’s most soulful singers and the Studio One release of Freddie McKay’s ‘Picture On The Wall: Deluxe Edition’ exclusive available via Studio One’s partnership with Discogs.
Check out Wyclef Jean’s Essential Wax:
This is one of my favorite albums because of that message. The idea of exodus was basically it’s ok to move on. You’re gonna be ok. The engineering, production and live instrumentation on this one is pretty genius. Exodus took reggae music to a whole other level; it’s an album that should be studied.
When this album came out, it made me wanna go watch the movie it was from. It was then that I understood the powerful combination of soundtracks and movies. “The Harder They Come” made me fall in love with Jimmy Cliff more as an artist, but it also introduced me to a lot of Jamaican artists I wouldn’t know, like The Roots.
As a producer, this record taught me how to record harmony layers. It has that reggae groove but with an English twang to it.. This album influenced a lot of pop reggae around the world when it came out, so it’s an important work.
This album changed the face of dancehall. The instrumentation against the vocals and that messaging felt like we was going back to the Bob Marley days.
Buju Banton took dancehall to another level here. It felt like Bob Marley And The Wailers produced this album with Chris Blackwell. At the time there was a fight between what dancehall had to do with reggae and where dancehall actually was coming from. What I love most is that Buju Banton took us back to spirituality of reggae here and made that connection back.