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for The Brooklyn Paper
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For the price of one drink, revelers at the Alligator Lounge in Williamsburg got a cocktail, a free brick oven pizza and a chance to hang out with hip-hop superstar Wyclef Jean on Dec. 3.

The former Fugee was in Brooklyn to celebrate the release of his latest solo album, “The Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant,” and he couldn’t have been happier to be back.

“Brooklyn gave me my swagger,” said the singer, who grew up in Coney Island’s Marlboro Projects and Flatbush.

Appropriately enough, the swaggering icon, who is now an official roving ambassador for Haiti, is pictured on the cover of his new album standing on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Like the first volume of “Carnival,” which went platinum in 1997 thanks to steady radio play of hit singles such as “Gone Til November” and the Bee Gees-sample-based anthem “Stayin’ Alive,” the new album features numerous guest artists as far-ranging as Shakira, Paul Simon and Lil’ Wayne.

But despite the rapper’s high-powered friends — he is so tight with Angelina Jolie that he named his daughter after her — he wasn’t shy about mingling with the masses and taking advantage of free pizza.

GO Brooklyn sat down with the star between slices to ask about his experience moving to Brooklyn from Haiti at age 9. He told us some of his earliest memories were of riding the Cyclone after his family first moved, and before they relocated to New Jersey, where he joined forces with the other two young rappers, Lauryn and Pras, who would go on to form the Fugees.

Jean said, “I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for Brooklyn.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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