On this day, June 24, in hip-hop history...

Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Sony BMG Music Entertainment

1997: Sixteen months removed from The Fugees' final and wildly successful projectThe Score, creative mastermind, Wyclef Jean, made his determined and unaccompanied leap into the solo recording world with the release of his debut album, Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival.

Fresh off the propulsion of the Fugees' collective achievements, the Haitian-born and New York/New Jersey-raised Wyclef approached his solo effort as a canvas for not only his multi-faceted talents with instrumentation, but also his dexterity for production. In fusing an array of cross-cultured musical influences, Wyclef unified his heritage for one encompassing sound. Integrating a multitude of genres within the album, Wyclef 's resourcefulness was on full display, as The Carnival is deeply rooted with hints of everything from Reggae, Creole, Salsa and Disco, to Hip-Hop, Funk, and R&B.

Although proving to be more than capable of thriving as his own artist separate from The Fugees, Wyclef seemingly demonstrated an insistence for validation throughout The Carnival. On the second track, "Apocalypse," Jean professes, "I'm back with lightning and thunder, I heard you over saying that I'm a one-hit wonder."

Vastly colorful and carrying a tranquil island-esque theme throughout, The Carnival  was met with extreme success upon its release. With features ranging from his Fugees counterparts in Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel, to The Neville Brothers and Salsa legend Celia Cruz, the album peaked at sixteen on the Billboard 200, and also generated two singles, "Gone till November" and "We Trying To Stay Alive," that reached the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100. The Carnival amassed three Grammy nominations in total, ended up selling over five million copies worldwide, and was ultimately certified double platinum.

-Michael Blair

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