Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wyclef Jean: The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book [Columbia, 2000]
Last time he merely claimed African diaspora. Here he casts his net wide enough to snare all of pop if it'll have him, as in "Kenny Rogers-Pharoahe Monch Dub Plate," featuring live appearances by both luminaries, or the pot song illustrating the proposition that if hip-hop is his wife, the guitar is his mistress. He sings roughly but warmly, and makes up as many hooks as he samples, a ploy I'm glad he can afford--one more way to mix things up. His obligatory shout-outs to the hood reject thuggism as good-humoredly as his voluntary testimonial for the red-light district rejects moralism. Clef is obviously bitterer than he lets on about the respect he doesn't get. That he keeps it to himself is the essence of an appeal that tops any schoolmarm's I can think of. A-