Wyclef Jean

As a solo conceptualist who once led The Fugees, Jean has produced a fascinating catalog of recordings for a slowly decreasing audience more enchanted with crunk-and-thug bleats than smart pop/R&B. Released on his new imprint, Sak Pasé, Welcome to Haiti Creole 101 further displays Jean's knack for drawing connections among disparate world music genres such as agit-folk ("President"), rousing konpa ("Bicentennial" with Sweet Micky), and conscious gangsta rap ("Haitian Mafia" with Foxy Brown). It's an inspiring album dedicated to his embattled homeland that emphasizes, as he writes in the liner notes, that "true creativity is in those that are daring enough to do what's in their hearts," not according to "chart position on the Billboard #1."