With regard to his leadership of The Fugees as a producer and emcee to later bridge Rap with pop, Wyclef Jean’s lasting impression on Hip Hop still reverberates to date. His former string of hits has ensured ongoing interest in his creative and social visions, despite bizarre moments including a mentorship of Canibus gone wrong, one of last year’s widely discussed celebrity Instagram pictures and controversy surrounding his charitable efforts. Back to pursuing music after a failed bid for his native Haiti’s presidency, Wyclef has returned to an era completely removed from his prime with April Showers.
Over the course of 33 exhausting tracks, April Showers is Wyclef at his most self-important with an unfiltered ambition left to roam free. Seemingly out to prove current relevance, his overly poor attempts to fit in with today’s stars further damage what was an already dying credibility. Unfortunate missteps due to being out of touch, the awkward “Started From The Bottom Interlude” and “[Love] Sosa Interlude” fuse the Hatian Kreyol language with Drake and Chief Keef’s respective recent hits, tarnishing their work rather than adding even a dash of excitement. Amongst the numerous original compositions, Wyclef recruits Kirko Bangz for the flat strip club anthem “The Go Go” and “Trap N Roll” finds him desperate, jumping aboard the EDM bandwagon with an equally embarrassing guest appearance from Waka Flocka Flame.
More pleas for modern consideration, “Open Letter Freestyle” addresses ‘Clef’s bout in the arena of international politics and “Bugatti Freestyle” celebrates his career’s highlights—a repeated theme as he name drops working with the likes of Carlos Santana, Destiny's Child and Whitney Houston—all over the tape. Determined to pave his way no matter how ill-advised, Wyclef spends much of April Showers throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. The sparse “Dispensery” features a misplaced Mobb Deep reunion as the three fail to make a club hit out of honoring Los Angeles’ legal marijuana culture. And even the well intentioned “Kick Knowledge” [a knock off of Lupe Fiasco’s “Dumb It Down”] misses its goal of ignorant parody.
Out to extend Wyclef’s tradition of breaking artists, the latter part of April Showers becomes a platform for an assorted cast of struggling affiliates to get a shot at rhyming stardom. Sadly, not one of these lesser known acts contribute much, possibly the least talented being female spitter Trini whose selection “The Buzz” contains tasteless punchlines such as “My flow got a fever / If I fuck Rick Ross he might have another seizure.”
With April Showers Wyclef has crafted an unmemorable vanity project that coasts off of his prior glory. One of but a few bright spots, the Young Chop produced “Hope N Pray” adapts to the times better than every other try, and “Hip Hop” illustrates exactly why he has perhaps overstayed his welcome in a scene that has changed and left him behind. Despite moments like “I Wish It Was Music” where T.I. and Trae Tha Truth help tackle society’s perception of Rap, the appropriately titled “Mid Life Crisis” reflects the refugee veteran’s present place within the genre. In all, the once eclectic musician suffers from a lack of brevity and organic inspiration that once rendered him a champion of the people.
DX Consensus: “Just A Mixtape”