This amazing rapper’s scorching private show rocked the socks off the audience of a private HK show, so we put the questions to former Fugees member Wyclef Jean…
GH: The drinks are on me. What are we having?
JEAN: Grand Marnier and cranberry juice, no ice. Learned it from Stevie Wonder,
GH: The greatest aspect of your album Memoirs of an Immigrant is…
JEAN: The merge between Paul Simon and Wyclef. It shows the new era of where the music is going when you combine the two generations together, He was incredible to work with.
GH: In your career, you’re proudest of…
JEAN: The fact that I’m able to use my celebrity and fame to promote my country Haiti. Every year I try to raise funds through my foundation Yela Haiti, so to have Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie going there, all of that wouldn’t be possible if I was just some cat roaming the streets.
GH: Your greatest joy in the world is…
JEAN: My daughter. That’s what brings me the most happiness. You’re always looking for the next thing, but what’s true fulfillment? True fulfillment for me is in my daughter.
GH: You’re happiest when…
JEAN: I’m onstage. Give me a guitar and throw me onstage anywhere in the world!
GH: When you’re onstage with someone, what’s the happiest moment?
JEAN: It goes back to my group The Fugees. To see it transcend from a high school band and then … BOOM in front of 50,000 people. It’s trippy.
GH: Will it happen again … The Fugees?
JEAN: I think it’s a possibility. For me, it really doesn’t matter. It was an important part of my life, which was the beginning. As a producer, I get bored very fast. I wasn’t content with ‘One time … two time…’
To me, I would have had a Fugees album out every year because there’s so much more escalation, I’m like the Gershwin of The Fugees. Lauryn’s like the Aretha Franklin of The Fugees. But I know the songs to give her to sing, to make them a hit. Sometimes, the material would be daring.
When they did ‘Ready Or Not’, I sampled Enya. They didn’t know who the hell Enya was. But they trusted me enough when I said, "sing this". When the group became big, everyone’s opinions become huge. I was like, "What happened to the people listening?" I thought, if they’re not going to listen, I’m sure there are a lot of artists that will.
GH: It’s dinnertime now and we’re hungry, so what are we having and who are we with?
JEAN: It depends on what part of the world we’re in but let’s say we’re in New York. We’re at Mr. Chow’s. It will be me, you and my cousin Jerry Wonder. That’s it. I move light.
GH: Haiti. What do you want to say about it?
JEAN: When a place is so down, there’s no way to go but up. Everything is a domino effect, and understand that. Don’t think it’s not. For example, the food crisis. The crisis is in Haiti. But of the some time, the crisis is in Egypt, it’s in Africa. This is really one world. You would be surprised what helping one kid could do.
For example, there’s a kid in the hood. The kid is walking down the street and he asks a lady for $50, and she says "That’s a lot of money, but here you go. Don’t spend it on drugs, Take the $50." The kid leaves. He’s in New York. The lady moves to Atlanta and goes to a bank. A guy walks into the bank and starts shooting the place up. He points of the lady at the ATM, pulls up the ski mask, and says "You don’t remember me? You gave me $50 when I was a young kid." Think about that.
GH: You can go in the studio with anybody you haven’t been in with before. Who is it?
JEAN: Prince. I know him and I definitely plan on doing stuff with him in the future. But he never says yes. He just shows up.
GH: The hottest woman you’ve met besides your wife is…
JEAN: Angelina Jolie.
GH: Your greatest life lesson ever?
JEAN: That comes from my Dad, cleaning up the bathrooms in Ramada Hotels in New Jersey.
And he’s like "Yo, whatever you do, always keep your head up. Whatever you do, do it honestly, because you will win in the end." I thought he was full of shit then, because so and so was pulling up with a Beamer. He wasn’t cleaning the bathroom. Well that guy’s dead now, you see what I’m saying?
Wyclef Jean’s latest album Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant is an awesome listen.
He also encourages listeners to check out the latest updates on Haiti in light of the earthquake at www.yele.org.