I had the pleasure of sitting down with Grammy Award winning artist, Wyclef Jean, upon the announcement he was asked to join the lineup of Jamaica’s “Bring The Sting” 30th anniversary concert.
Although we haven’t heard much from Jean since the 2012 release of his book, “Purpose”, he wants us to know he’s still working. In fact, earlier in the year Jean released his “April Showers” free mix-tape, garnering a million downloads.
Following his run for president in Haiti’s 2010 election and the closing of the Yele Haiti foundation (the organization he co-founded but came to its demise over allegations there were mismanagement of funds), Wyclef would like to get back to the music.
On joining the “Bring the Sting” line up Jean says, “You can’t wanna do Sting, they gotta want you to do it. Sting is the roughest crowd in Jamaica. The people are the toughest. It reminds me of the Apollo theatre back in the day. They will boo you if they ain’t feeling it. That’s how it started. For it to now be on pay-per-view, for me that’s a huge honor. To watch a lot of people that I grew up being fans of. I’m gonna see Super Cat, That’s huge at Sting. People like Ninjaman. I’m gonna feel like I’m 14 years old again.”
“The roaster of how they mix up the talent, with the Hip Hop and the Dancehall and the Reggae, I think that’s incredible.”
What we can look forward to:
“I’m gonna be out there with the guitar in my hand. I haven’t seen too many Sting performances where the artist actually has a guitar and they’re really commanding the crowd.”
On working on new music & touring:
“Coming back from all the politics, you know I was running for president, I dropped a mix-tape, we did a million downloads which was dope. For 2014, everybody that loves ‘The Score’ , that love ‘Wyclef the Carnival’, 2014 we have the new sound coming.”
“We’re gonna have the tour, which starts in December in Europe then we’re gonna come back to the states. We’ve got a lot line up for 2014 so just keep your eyes on me. It’s gonna be fun.”
On the Haitian Genocide in the Dominican Republic:
“I put out a song, once this all started, it’s called Natasha…The idea of the song talks about what’s really going on. The Domincan parliament says…if there’s any Haitians in the Domincan Republic from this time to this time we don’t consider you Dominican no more. So, if that’s the case, what do you consider them?”
“This law that’s being passed… we don’t agree with it. The law’s not necessarily coming from the Dominican people because my Dominican friends are against what’s going on. We have to make sure we keep the pressure up on that and make sure they reverse that law. Very important.”
On the now infamous speedos photo while on a Ducati:
After joking a bit he says, “You would not expect Wyclef to be butt naked with some red underwear. Nor should you ever expect that only on my 43rd birthday. Not til I’m 50 (laughs)”.
“My friends that grew up with me, they know, that I’m a goof ball. What happens is, there’s a perception of you in public. When you’re in public you’ve got to be a certain way. When you hear the name ‘Wyclef Jean’, you know, this is a serious guy. To every serious person there’s still fun parts. So I just felt like ya’ll have known me in the industry for 20 years and I was like ‘Yo I’m gonna do something that’s crazy and it’s gonna shock ya’ll, show the other side of Wyclef. But I don’t want people to think that on my free time I sit around on Ducatis with red underwears and have conversations with myself.”
On his health and staying in shape:
“Especially with black people we eat what we want and then we die…Those who see me perform on stage see me doing back flips and flying are like ‘Yo how do you stay so active?’ It’s really just a balance of life. Somebody asked me earlier, ‘If you could talk to your 20 year old self, what would you tell him?’ I woulda told him be a little easier on the women because at the end of the day it’s all about a balance of self.”
“Your health is the most important thing. If you don’t have health you don’t have nothing. You want to be flexible you want to be able to move around.”
After noting Lana Del Rey’s song, “Summer Sadness”, as one of his favorite songs at the moment he adds, “Some of the [current] pop stuff reminds me of the British evasion, like 1989, 1990. It’s like really cool pop.”
On whether Hip Hop has gone too pop or soft:
“The word Hip Hop is a culture. I think that music is a menu. So when you look at the menu, if you want hardcore hip hop there’s a place you can find it online…LL Cool J had a style. He had a rough style and a girl style. You can pick the style that you want. Then you got Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Brooklyn Zoo”, ratchet when they came with it. So you gotta pick your style.”
“I think that Hip Hop is exciting and it will always be exciting because it is still the only form of music that you express yourself and say whatever the hell you want to without being censored.”
Watch the full interviews below: