Wyclef Jean’s Tiny Desk Concert Shows His In-Your-Face Guitar Skills (Video)
Following The Roots’ appearance on NPR’s “Tiny Desk” last week, another genre-bending Hip-Hop veteran hits the Washington, D.C. platform. Wyclef Jean, joined by his band and latest protégé vocalist Jazzy Amra, perform. The three-song jam session concert comes on the heels of Carnival III: The Rise and Fall of A Refugee. While ‘Clef plays two of his most captivating new songs, he closed with a timely, electrified rendition of the 20-year-old hit “Gone Till November.”
In between his trio of songs, The Fugees’ alum provides engaging stories. Of “Gone…,” he explains the ease of getting Bob Dylan to appear in his video (despite plenty of industry warnings). The highly-accomplished producer also recalls telling Whitney Houston that her notes were flat during the first session of “My Love Is Your Love,” and getting what he calls “the ultimate diva” reply. He plays a few notes of that exceptional collaboration too. The crowd reacts to the tales, something like VH1’s Storytellers program. In total, Wyclef commands the NPR office for nearly half an hour.
He opens with a grabbing performance of Carnival III cut “Borrowed Time.” Guitar in hand, the Brooklyn/New Jersey representative performs a hard-hitting song for complicated times in society. He wants all to “catch a vibe,” as he certainly creates one. Then he moves into “Turn Me Good,” featuring Jazzy. While C3 debuted at #112, these performances show the allure in an album of which ’90s and early 2000s fans may be unaware.
The closing of the “Tiny Desk” concert with “Gone Till November” is an appropriate choice. The concert releases amid the month, and the subject matter is relevant in an era of demanding prison reform. Wyclef explains making a song about hustling that was influenced by Dylan and the like. Just as Bob famously “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, so does Wyclef. He still finds new dimensions for his celebrated double-platinum, Grammy-nominated 1997 track.
#BonusBeat: Wyclef Jean recently discussed The Carnival III & Why he’s still relevant with Ambrosia For Heads: