Wyclef Jean – Fugees

Wyclef Jean, Life After The Fugees

This week’s episode features legendary musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor Wyclef Jean. Join Brian Rose as he travels to Paris to talk to Wyclef about life after the success of the Fugees.

The Three-Time Grammy Award Winner

This week’s episode features legendary musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor Wyclef Jean. A three-time Grammy Award winner, Wyclef achieved huge success with the Fugees, after having moved from Haiti to the United States at the age of nine.

Born Nel Ust Wyclef Jean on October 17, 1969, Wyclef was one of four children. He grew up in the small town of Croix-des-Bouquets, just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Wyclef, who spoke only Haitian French when he entered the States, quickly learned English from listening to rap music.

In his early teens, music soon became one of Wyclef’s chief interests; majoring in jazz, studying the music business and learning to play more than 15 instruments at his Newark high school. Along with his cousin, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, and friend Lauryn Hill, Jean also started experimenting with hip hop. In order to afford studio time to record their original compositions, Wyclef worked at a local McDonald’s.

Eventually Wyclef, Pras and Lauryn’s talent came to the attention of music executives and, while they were still minors, they were offered a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1992. They eventually named themselves the Fugees, a shortened version of the word “refugees.”

The Score hits the world stage

With the help of the producer Salaam Remi, they smoothed out their rugged sound and set the template for their breakthrough second album, The Score. Catapulting them to international success in 1996, The Score was six times platinum in the United States, with worldwide sales totaling 17 million. The single “Killing Me Softly” a remake of Roberta Flack’s 1970s hit, stayed at the top of the R&B singles chart for seven months. The Score also earned them two Grammy wins in 1997.

Following the success of The Score, the Fugees toured the world but the group would never record another album, eventually splitting due to personal issues.

After the Fugees broke up, Wyclef released and produced his album The Carnival in 1997, which explored the musical gamut, including a mix of Creole, salsa, reggae, Afro-Cuban, R&B, funk, rap and orchestral selections. The platinum-selling solo album received rave reviews from critics and was a smash-hit in Haiti.

Life After The Fugees

Away from music, Wyclef has made a concerted effort to represent the diaspora he hails from. However, it hasn’t always gone smoothly. The Yele Haiti charity he established in 2001 folded in 2012. Attempts to raise money for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake ended up in the courts and the charity was criticized for repeatedly failing to file tax returns. An investigation concluded that vast amounts of money raised through the charity had gone to Wyclef and his entourage for travel expenses.

In 2010, Wyclef announced he’d be running for president of Haiti in that year’s election. However, his candidacy was refused as he hadn’t been a resident in Haiti for the five prior years.

As it goes to show, Wylef has led a fascinating life and I really appreciated him taking the time to meet me and open up about his life.

If you’re a fan of the Fugees and hip hop in general, you’re going to find this episode fascinating.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Paris, Haiti, and Voodoo
  • Moving to Brooklyn, Newark, and meeting Lauryn Hill
  • Columbia Records, the Fugees, and Yéle Haiti
  • Running for President of Haiti, the earthquake and tsunami
  • His daughter, success secrets, and Carnival I
  • Ready or Not, Pink Floyd, and Beyoncé
  • Whitney Houston, Édith Piaf, and Bob Marley
  • Jimi Hendrix, Malcolm X, and Dr. Dre

00:00 Trailer.
02:42 Brian’s thoughts on the episode.
05:39 Brian’s introduction.
06:26 Wyclef’s relationship with the city of Paris and its influence on his birthplace of Haiti.
10:49 Voodoo is not as scary as Hollywood depicts it.
13:48 How musical vibration evokes a connection.
18:07 Wyclef describes how a visitor should experience Haiti.
24:03 Musical influences absorbed from an early age.
28:29 The culture shock upon arrival in Brooklyn.
34:50 Wyclef goes deep about tough reality of life in Marlboro Projects, Coney Island.
51:10 A move to South Orange and Newark, New Jersey, with its car crime culture.
55:32 Music development in a basement with Lauryn Hill.
1:05:13 Wyclef discloses something no-one knows.
1:10:03 A record label signs up the Fugees.
1:13:30 Music business tougher than the streets. Observing, learning, developing, finally making it big.
1:30:20 Success brings its own problems for artists.
1:39:53 Formation of Yéle Haiti.
1:52:37 How Yéle Haiti ceased.
2:11:32 Decision to run for President of Haiti.
2:24:03 Wyclef describes what he witnessed in earthquake aftermath.
2:29:20 New Carnival III record change of title from Road to Clefication to The Fall and the Rise.
2:33:54 Why Wyclef likes to be both mentor and mentee with new young artists.
2:36:14 How the music scene has changed since release of 1997 Carnival I to 2017 Carnival III.
2:39:03 How Wyclef’s daughter has change his life.
2:46:15 Concern for current world turmoil.
2:51:19 Telephone call to the twenty year old Wyclef.
2:52:02 Success secrets.
2:52:46 Why Wyclef believes that both our birth and death are a gift.
2:54:30 What is music?
2:56:27 Are we all one as humans, one big organism?
2:58:58 Brian’s summing up.

Wyclef Jean links:
Wyclef Jean website
Wyclef Jean on Twitter
Wyclef Jean on YouTube
Wyclef Jean on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Wyclef/
Wyclef Jean on Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/wyclefjean/
Wyclef Jean on Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyclef_Jean

Wyclef Jean Books:
Purpose
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Purpose-Immigrants-Story-Wyclef-Jean/dp/006196686X

Wyclef Jean Music:
Carnival Three
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carnival-Three-Various/dp/B00006FSTU
Blunted on Reality
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blunted_on_Reality
The Score
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Score_(Fugees_album)
J’ouvert
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%27ouvert_(EP)
Africali – Out of the Jungle
https://www.facebook.com/Wyclef/posts/10153650736136619
Ruffhouse Records
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruffhouse_Records
Hendrix (single)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBYxLOd4Dh0

Topics discussed:
Fugees
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugees
Haiti
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti
Saut-d’Eau
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saut-d%27Eau
Live and Let Die (film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_and_Let_Die_(film)
Voodoo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voodoo
Canibus Performing 2nd round knockout with a lion on stage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcCgy26N7yM
Ne me quitte pas
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne_me_quitte_pas
Cap Haĩtien
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cap-Ha%C3%AFtien
The Muppets
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muppets
The Doors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors
New Jersey Drive (film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_Drive
Fresh (Kool and the Gang song)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresh_(Kool_%26_the_Gang_song)
Killing me softly – Fugees
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKOtzIo-uYw
Big Beat Records
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Beat_Records_(American_record_label)
Amy (documentary film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_(2015_film)
Ready or Not (Fugees song)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ready_or_Not_(Fugees_song)
The Wall (Album by Pink Floyd)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wall
Ghosts of Cité Soleil
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479046/
Cité Soleil
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cit%C3%A9_Soleil
Yéle Haiti
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C3%A9le_Haiti
For Whom the Dogs Spy by Raymond Joseph
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22750208-for-whom-the-dogs-spy

People mentioned in this episode:
Beyoncé
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyonc%C3%A9
Shakira
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakira
Carolos Santana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Santana
Michael Jackson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson
Whitney Houston
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston
Sir Mick Jagger
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mick_Jagger
Lil Wayne
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lil_Wayne
Édith Piaf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89dith_Piaf
Bob Marley
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Marley
Jimi Hendrix
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimi_Hendrix
Jacques Brel
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Brel
Johnny Hallyday
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Hallyday
Angelina Jolie
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Jolie
Jean-Michel Basquiat
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Michel_Basquiat
Malcolm X
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X
Dr Dre
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Dre
Lauryn Hill
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauryn_Hill
Pras Michél
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pras
Nina Simone
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_Simone
Mariah Carey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariah_Carey
Akon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akon
Nelson Mandela
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela
Salaam Remi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaam_Remi
Hugh Locke
http://www.thehaitiexperiment.com/author/
Raymond Joseph
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Joseph
Emeli Sandé
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emeli_Sand%C3%A9
Will Smith
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Smith
Warren Buffett
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett
Ido Portal
https://londonreal.tv/ido-portal-just-move-documentary-full-movie/