Wyclef Jean

Many socially conscious rappers started out with a message and ended up rhyming about money, hos, and Dom Perignon. Not Wyclef Jean. The Haitian-American MC, who founded the philanthropic organization Yéle Haiti to benefit that impoverished island nation, has managed to avoid the bling and stay true to his roots. Yes, he did a song with Shakira to cash in on this whole reggaeton thing. No, his latest record, The Carnival Vol. II, isn’t even half as awesome as the first volume. (Are sequels ever as good?) But for all his big-time swagger, Wyclef still sings about immigrant struggles and revolution. Only this time, Columbia Records is marketing the disc more aggressively—perhaps because the preceding Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101 didn’t achieve much commercial success. Americans tend to ignore music that isn’t sung in their native tongue, so it’s not surprising that Carnival II is stocked with radio-friendly party jams and guest appearances from seasoned airwave surfers like Akon and, again, Shakira. Yet the album’s single, “Sweetest Girl,” is as much about immigration as shakin’ it for the Benjamins. Say what you will about mainstream hip-hop, ’cause most of it blows with the force of 10 Hurricane Katrinas, but Wyclef has always been a steadfast exception to that unfortunate rule. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. www.showboxonline.com. $37.50-–$40. 8 p.m. SARA BRICKNER

Mon., July 21, 8 p.m., 2008

 
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