Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival

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This article is about the Wyclef Jean album. For the Michael Fedo story, see The Carnival (short story). For other uses, see Carnival (disambiguation).
The Carnival
The Carnival (Wyclef Jean album).jpg
Studio album by Wyclef Jean
Released June 24, 1997
Recorded 1996–February 1997
Genre Hip hop[1]
Length 73:51
Label Sony Music/Columbia Records[2]
Producer Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonda
Wyclef Jean chronology
- The Carnival
The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book
Singles from The Carnival
  1. "We Trying to Stay Alive[3]"
    Released: May 24, 1997
  2. "Guantanamera"
    Released: 1997
  3. "Gone Till November"
    Released: January 20, 1998
  4. "Cheated (To All The Girls)"
    Released: July 28, 1998
  5. "Gunpowder"
    Released: September 28, 1998

The Carnival is the debut album released by American hip hop musician Wyclef Jean. Released on June 24, 1997, Jean also served as the album's executive producer. The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching at number sixteen on the US Billboard 200 chart, and reaching the top five on the Top R&B Albums chart, peaking at number four and garnered Jean two Grammy Award nominations for the 40th Grammy Awards, including one for Best Rap Album. The US top ten hit, "Gone till November" earned Jean a nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 41st Grammy Awards in 1999.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album encompasses many musical genres, including hip hop, reggae, folk, disco, soul, Son Cubano and Haitian music. The album features guest appearances from Celia Cruz, The Neville Brothers and Jean's bandmates from The Fugees, Lauryn Hill and Pras. It also features skits between many of its songs, most of them set in a fictional trial for Wyclef Jean, in which he is accused of being "a player" and a "bad influence". The final three songs on the album are sung in Haitian Creole.

Commercial performance[edit]

The Carnival spawned the singles "Gone Till November", "We Trying to Stay Alive", "Guantanamera" and "To All the Girls". The album sold over 5 million copies worldwide, and was RIAA certified 2x Platinum.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
The Austin Chronicle 4/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly A[6]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[7]
NME 8/10[8]
Pitchfork Media 8.1/10[9]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[11]
Spin 8/10[12]
The Village Voice A−[13]

The album received Universal Acclaim. In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau found the album more R&B than the "diasporan flavors" it uses as "half decoration, half concept", and remarked that Jean uses the sampler for "one-dimensional tunes" that showcase his "well-articulated morality tales and popwise carnivalesque."[13] In his review for Playboy, Christgau asserted that the album is more likely than any other well-meaning hip hop to impact the demographic it aims at and also works as an attempt to prove Jean is equally worthy of the attention given to Lauryn Hill.[14]

Stephen Thompson of The A.V. Club, in a favorable review, called The Carnival "a stunning solo album that's light years beyond The Score".[15] He also wrote "In his universalist embrace of music of all forms, Wyclef Jean makes a more powerful call for peace and unity than a thousand East Coast-West Coast "Stop the violence, y'all" intros put together."[15]

The Carnival was voted the sixteenth best album of the year in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1997.[16] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it twentieth on his own list.[17]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Intro"  
2. "Apocalypse"  
3. "Guantanamera" (Featuring Celia Cruz, Jeni Fujita & Lauryn Hill)  
4. "Pablo Diablo (Interlude)" (Featuring Crazy Sam & Da Verbal Assassin)  
5. "Bubblegoose"  
6. "Prelude to "To All the Girls""  
7. "To All the Girls"  
8. "Down Lo Ho (Interlude)"  
9. "Anything Can Happen"  
10. "Gone till November"  
11. "Words of Wisdom (Interlude)"  
12. "Year of the Dragon" (Featuring Lauryn Hill)  
13. "Sang Fézi" (Featuring Lauryn Hill)  
14. "Fresh Interlude"  
15. "Mona Lisa" (Featuring The Neville Brothers)  
16. "Street Jeopardy" (Featuring John Forté & R.O.C.)  
17. "Killer M.C. (Interlude)"  
18. "We Trying to Stay Alive" (Featuring John Forté & Pras)  
19. "Gunpowder" (Featuring the I-Threes)  
20. "Closing Arguments (Interlude)"  
21. "Enter the Carnival (Interlude)"  
22. "Jaspora"  
23. "Yele"  
24. "Carnival" (Featuring Jacob Desvarieux, Jocelyne Béroard & Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly)  

Chart performance[edit]


Chart (1997) Peak
US Billboard 200 16
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 4


Year Single Chart Peak
1997 "We Trying to Stay Alive" Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 14
Hot Rap Singles 3
Billboard Hot 100 45
"Guantanamera" Latin Pop Airplay 16
Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay 12
1998 "Cheated (To All the Girls)" Hot Rap Singles 6
"Gone till November" Canadian Singles Chart 4
Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 1
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 9
Hot Rap Singles 2
Rhythmic Top 40 19
Billboard Hot 100 7
UK Singles Chart 3
"To All the Girls" Canadian Singles Chart 19
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 48
Billboard Hot 100 61
"Gunpowder" Billboard Hot 100 75



  1. ^ Nelson, Havelock (December 27, 1997 – January 3, 1998). "The Rap Column". Billboard: 85. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ "All Music Label". AllMusic. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  3. ^ "All Music Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  4. ^ Stanley, Leo. "Presents the Carnival Featuring Refugee Allstars – Wyclef Jean". AllMusic. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Record Reviews". The Austin Chronicle. August 1, 1997. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  6. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (July 18, 1997). "The Carnival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Connie (June 21, 1997). "Presenting a Daring Solo 'Carnival' Ride". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  8. ^ Batey, Angus (June 21, 1997). "Wyclef Jean Featuring Refugee Allstars – The Carnival". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  9. ^ Schreiber, Ryan. "Wyclef Jean: The Carnival". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  10. ^ Morales, Ed (June 26, 1997). "The Carnival: Wyclef Jean". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 425–26. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  12. ^ Michel, Sia (August 1997). "Wyclef Jean: Presents the Carnival featuring Refugee Allstars". Spin. 13 (5): 111. Retrieved July 23, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 23, 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 1997). "Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton, Wyclef Jean, Strip Jointz". Playboy. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen (March 29, 2002). "Jean ventures far beyond the places he knows". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  16. ^ "The 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 28, 1998. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Pazz & Jop 1997: Dean's List". The Village Voice. New York. February 28, 1998. Retrieved July 22, 2013.