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Wyclef Jean Concert Review

Wyclef Jean
August 24, 2018
CrossroadsKC - Kansas City, MO

Wyclef Jean, photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Even if you didn't know anything about the personal tension between its members, attending post-breakup solo shows from multiple members of the Fugees makes it abundantly evident how different the attitudes of its members are. Wyclef Jean's nearly two-hour set at Crossroads KC, while exceptional in many of its performances, was an occasionally nauseating exercise in ego (juxtaposed to Hill's humble, music-first approach). While, of course, Wyclef deserves a pat on the back for his time spent in one of hip-hop's great groups, the rapper's first words spoken to the audience this night were used to take credit for making both Shakira and Beyoncé famous via his early collaborations with them.

Later flexes -- like a funny voicemail played from DJ Khaled and a joke about Young Thug fans thinking he was 24 years old while discussing the Atlanta native's track named after him -- were more enjoyable to bear witness to. Fugees hits like "Zealots" and "Fu-Gee-La" sounded fresh as ever; many hands were thrown in the air. "Ready Or Not" was as pleasant as an Lauryn Hill-less version could be.

The populist emcee and former Haitian presidential candidate switched up some bars on his solo hit "If I Was President" to rap about smoking weed with Bernie and tearing down Trump's wall. Wyclef also showcased his abilities as a one man band during "Gone Til November," grabbing his guitar for the number and throwing a rock-n-roll solo on the end; he later showed off his chops on both the bass and a hand drum.

Roughly 200 heads remained as Wyclef wound his show down. This walk-out rate and depletion in crowd energy could've easily been avoided by chopping off the 10-20 minutes he used for his DJ segments, which included pointless playback of songs by Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, and Souls Of Mischief. Wyclef bragged that he had enough material to go 'til 8 A.M., but after 20 years, he should know that it's often better to leave fans wanting more.

Veteran Sacramento duo Blackalicious (joined by longtime friend of the group Vursatyl) threw fans that showed up early a true hip-hop party. Overflowing with infectious melodies, creative flows, and freestyles that utilized knowledge of the Kansas City Royals and the entire alphabet, the group's set felt like a rare treat.

Known locally for performing year-round, often in unconventional settings, rapper/singer AY Musik opened the show. Despite being better practiced (his band played like a top-notch church ensemble) and more interactive than many hometown hip-hop acts (fans cheered him on as he mounted the roof of one of the outdoor venue's bars) as he performed, but AY's material was mostly forgettable, relying largely on flimsy pop hooks that never really landed. More mystifying portions of the set included a cover of the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" and a change into some "nerdy" clothes before rapping to one of his backup dancers (AY explains he was home-schooled until his senior year of high school).

Full photo gallery here.

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