Wyclef Jean – “Hendrix” (Singles Going Steady)

Wyclef Jean's "Hendrix" is a brooding reflection on friends lost to drugs and innocence lost to sociogenic pressure.

Pryor Stroud: Wielding the same species of slurred, melodically-minded chill-hop that made Drake and Ty Dolla $ign radio fixtures, Wyclef Jean’s “Hendrix” is a brooding reflection on friends lost to drugs and innocence lost to sociogenic pressure. It tells the stories of two childhood confidantes parting at a crossroads: one walks into a future of backroom exchanges, crippling chemical dependence, and exalted criminality, the other — presumably Jean himself — into a blaze of musical ambition and artistic triumph. They take different paths, but they started in the exact same place; Jean underscores this throughout the track. “All I wanted to be was a rock star / And all he wanted to be was an Escobar”, he sings, the reggae-infused core of his voice seeping out from behind the words, and as he tells his story, you can envision both of these paths stretching out before you, stretching out before generations of wayward kids — kids disoriented by poverty, by abuse, by systemic mistreatment — that may be tempted to take a step down the wrong road. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: Wyclef’s latest single is a laid-back autobiographical tale, where he raps about his childhood friends wanting to be basketball players and drug dealers while he just wanted to be a rock star (“Playin’ Jimi Hendrix in the basement”). The music has a very laid back groove with some interesting musical choices thrown in here and there. Kind of low-key, with some occasional bursts of guitar and hopped-up drum fills, the song may not bring Wyclef any new fans, but it’s an interesting diversion from his catalog. [6/10]

Steve Horowitz: Give Wyclef credit for trying: rhyming “rock star: and “Escobar” is a brave move. But the man is no Hendrix. He needs to take more risks and repeat himself less. The music never takes risks, and the lyrics never develop. You can’t just say, “Welcome to the rotten apple” without explaining. New York deserves better. [6/10]

Chad Miller: The music is pretty enjoyable here. The melody manages to move to lots of well-defined sections, and there’s usually something interesting going on underneath too. The song is pretty devastating from the start as well. I don’t think the “music savior” theme was done as well as it could have been though. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.25

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