On his latest disc, Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, onetime Fugee Wyclef Jean takes his reputation as the king of collaborators beyond the logical extreme. He sees his music as a tent large enough to cover performers of every stripe — a worthy ideal. Yet the guest stars who accompany him are such a disparate lot that listening to the CD from start to finish induces whiplash. No one could transition seamlessly between tracks featuring Norah Jones, Sizzla, Mary J. Blige, Paul Simon and System of a Down's Serj Tankian, so it's no knock on Jean to say that he doesn't pull it off. However, he could have smoothed the ride considerably had he assembled a more solid collection of songs before dialing up Akon, Shakira and every other A-lister he found in his cell phone. Next time around, Jean, joined on this bill by Lyfe Jennings, should try getting by with a little less help from his friends.
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