Wyclef Jean is truly an enigma — and not necessarily in a good way. Ever since the “break up” of The Fugees (only slumping record sales will get that group back together) and his going solo, he’s been a hard artist to grade. The man has obvious talent. He has the capability to be one of the top three rappers in the game today. Yet, he’s not. He has the skills and content to become another KRS-One. But he’s not even a pale imitation.
He could be great. He’s not. There’s something stopping him, and I have no clue why or what it is. He often comes up with some really nice tunes, but nothing ever really stands out (except his “Sang Fezi” and Destiny Child’s “No, No, No, No, No”). When I first started listening to Masquerade, I thought this may finally be when he breaks his own spell and takes greatness on head-to-head. I was tragically wrong.
While the album starts off strong, it becomes accelerated biodegradable on the fifth song, the title track, when Jean tries to match M.O.P.’s hardness when we all know the man’s as hard as a French poodle licking its crystal bowl clean while lounging in the plush, leather backseat of a vintage Rolls. He somewhat redeems himself with the jonesing “You Say Keep It Gangsta” (funny stuff), and “Party Like I Party” is really close to a great song. But then you start asking God and yourself “Why?” with his cover of “Oh What a Night” and start contemplating your own and God’s existence when he resurrects Tom Jones for the abysmal cover of “Pussycat” (and I really don’t want to comment on “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”). After that, you just want to find a garden so you can fertilize it with this disc.