Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: HMI World
|Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 10:37 am Post subject: WYCLEF INTERVIEW (AUGUST 2000)!
Rapper, Writer, Producer
Interview conducted by Fred Fabien
Questions by Patrick Desvarieux & Fred Fabien
Wyclef Jean is an inspiration to millions of Haitians around the world. In this EXCLUSIVE interview, he opens up about many topics. He talks about Haitian pride, his new CD, the Fugees, voodoo, Haitian player haters, Sweet Micky, Princess Georgy and much much more. Enjoy Wyclef like you've never heard him before.
Kompa! Magazine: Why havenāt you been able to help other Haitian artists cross over to the American market?
Wyclef: I grew up in the rap game you know. I listened to a lot of Hip Hop and Reggae.
Iām Haitian, but I didnāt grow up with Compas (music). My uncle who recently past away put us up on the Compas vibes. I fell in love with Reggae in Brooklyn. I fell in love with Stone Love (a Reggae sound band). I use to do dub plates (self-promos for a Reggae DJ sound on the current popular rhythm). I chatted ( to sing Reggae) before I started [rapping] you know. (Laughs). Those were the days.
KM: Does Wyclef want to be the only one (Haitian) that makes it to the American market as it has been rumored in certain Haitian circles?
Wyclef: It's not like that. I got love for all my peoples. I hang out strictly with Haitians! Haiti ātil I die! (he exclaims). Man, come on. I have Haitian cats down with me on the roster. Jerry (his cousin and producer), Melky and Sedek (his sister and brother respectively), so no one can say that. When I step on stage to receive a Grammy, itās Haiti that wins, not Wyclef Jean. I always represent Haiti on the national stage.
KM: Whatās up with you and Danny Le Beau of Tabou Combo ? We heard that you guys had/have a falling out?
Wyclef: Who?! (pausing for a moment) Oh!, Danny from Tabou. I have no beef with Danny man. I have no beef with anyone. We attempted to do a project and it didnāt work out. What I suggested wasnāt to his taste and I wasnāt feeling what he wanted us to collaborate on. You know if Iām going to do a rap cut itās going to be real. So that was it. No beef. No problem! If Wyclef ever has beef with anyone the world would know. My beef would be like Biggieās song āWhatās Beef?ā It would be real!
KM: Were you supposed to help Emeline Michel with a planned CD she had coming out on SONY?
Wyclef: Everyone always stresses more into something than there really is. It was like this; Papa Jube got a deal through RuffHouse and I thought me and Emeline could work on something together. But the deal fell through.
KM: Did you have ANYTHING to do with the deal falling through?
Wyclef: I had nothing to do with it. I was just trying to look out and help her out but her deal with RuffHouse didnāt work out.
KM: Do you think she has the talent to cross over? What about Danny Le Beau?
Wyclef: I just wish all of them luck. I really canāt say because I donāt feel it like that. Iām on a completely different vibe.
KM: What do you mean by that?
Wyclef: Iām just concentrating on so many projects that I donāt have time to break down other people's work like that. Iām into Hip-Hop. Compas is really not my thing.
KM: Were you ever involved with or did you ever date Princess Georgy? That was the talk of the industry for a while.
Wyclef: All I have to say is that sheās a sweetheart! Sheās talented man. Sheās super talented! Sheās an incredible singer.
KM: Would you ever showcase her talents on one of your records?
Wyclef: What I do is not her style. She can sing her Compas songs, but I donāt think that her flow would fit Rap and maybe not even R&B. But I got love for her.
KM: You know she just recently moved from Zin to Phanttoms. What do you think about that?
Wyclef: Yeah! I heard about that. Whatever makes her happy. It doesnāt matter who sheās with. A lot of cats in the Haitian industry flip bands. Sheās just doing her thing and trying to stay happy.
KM: Is it true that before you blew up in the American market you were turned down by the group Zin when you offered them a project? Whatās the real story?
Wyclef: (He laughs out loud). Nah man, six or seven years ago when we (The Fugees) were coming up and trying to break through, I put word out that we wanted to open for a Haitian band. I donāt even think Zin knew anything about it. Some dude down with Phantoms heard about it and we opened up one night for them. We played mad early that night! There was nobody there. (He laughs). We played for an empty house. (He chuckles).
KM: How do you feel about all that?
Wyclef: Nothing. It wasnāt like that. As far as Zin, I really didnāt get a chance to vibe with them until about a couple of years agoā¦that cat the lead singer (Alan Cave) is cool. He doesnāt seem to be a hater.
KM: Tell us about your friendship with Sweet Micky? How did you guys connect?
Wyclef: Mickyās the bomb man! That catās crazy cool! You hear me? Back when I was nobody he still made time for me. He would come up to me after a show and he would just kick it. Micky gave us our props and he was real. He wasnāt phony. He was the only Compas head that I knew who was really into Hip Hop. I got love for Micky man.
KM: Whatās your input on the vicious rivalry between Sweet Micky and T-Vice?
Wyclef: Man I really donāt know too much about it and where itās coming from. I canāt really say. All the bands sound the same. I mean, the flavors are similar. No one sounds that different from the other. So I donāt see what the beef is all about. All I know is that Mickyās style was that he came in with three niggaz and a synthesizer and banged. He was like ppppp that 30-member band shit! (He stops and laughs a little hilariously). And all the bands that came in after him just followed. I mean if it's working for them (Compas bands) ā¦ All I know is that when I wanted to do Carnival (his first solo album), Sweet Micky responded. Iāll do anything for him!
KM: What do you have to say about all the feuds going on between the bands in the Haitian music industry?
Wyclef: All the bands should love each other. Look at me in the American market. I donāt have a single ennemy. How many people can call up Whitney (Houston), Mary (J. Blige), and Kenny (Rogers) and be like, āYo I want you to kick it with me on a songā.
KM: What about your beef with Lauryn, Pras, Cannibus and LL (LL Cool J?
Wyclef: I got nothing but love for LL. I respect that dude. Lauryn and Pras is where I started. They know how I feel and where to reach me. But you know we got issues.
KM: Is āWhere Fugee At?ā (the first track on his new album āEclefticā) a message to Lauryn and Pras?
Wyclef: Itās a check yourself thing. Itās like to keep them in line. Itās both. You can say itās a dis. I had issues I needed to address. I want them to remember where it started.
KM: āThe Eclefticā is radically different from āThe Carnivalā. Why is that?
Wyclef: I had to take it back to the essence. Back to āBlunted on Realityā. (The Fugees' first album back in 1994). I had to remind them that Wyclef Jean is not soft and that I can still keep it real! I had issues to settle on āThe Ecleftic.ā It aināt all about the money. Now Iām already busy in the studio working on āCarnival IIā.
KM: What was up with your love affair with Lauryn?
Wyclef: There isnāt much to say. Iāve already done a few interviews on it already. (Almost dismissing it as old news. Clef sung about it in āTo All the Girlsā from āThe Carnivalā). We were a tight crew. What happened happened and thatās all I have to say about it.
KM: Where does your wife fit into this picture?
Wyclef: I love my wife. She was there for me from the beginning way before the Fugees, when I was struggling. Weāre fine now. Everything is OK.
KM: So, whatās the future like for the Fugees?
Wyclef: Weāre still here. Lauryn and Pras know how to reach me. I donāt have no beef with them. Itās just issues. I would love for us to get down again. Iām looking forward to reuniting. Lauryn and Pras heard āThe Eclefticā and they loved it! They called and told me that. I mean, they could have issues with the man, but if his music is good they canāt knock it.
KM: Why have you found so much success in the Hip-Hop industry?
Wyclef: I just keep it real. Many are called but few are chosen. I write songs and create beats. A lot is from the heart others just for fun. I just do what Iām feeling.
KM: What were you feeling with "It Doesnāt Matter" (your current release)?
Wyclef: I wanted it to be a little bit more hardcore. The first release was "Thug Angels". The second release "It Doesnāt Matter" was crazy yo! My little sister put me on to "The Rock". (The WWFās most popular wrestler). We were in the car chillinā and I was like "it doesnāt matter." She was like, "you canāt say it like The Rock". I was like who? I didnāt know who The Rock was. Iām always in the studio. I wanted to tap into the kids. Theyāre mad about wrestling. Next thing I know we were in the studio with The Rock recording "It Doesnāt Matter".
Wyclef: Iām always playing different shit in the studios, even country. My mom used to play a lot of country at the crib back in the days. You know in the 70s a lot of Haitians were into country. It was probably the closest thing to Compas that they had available. Growing up in the Marlboro Projects in The Bush (Flatbush, Brooklyn), I had a lot of exposure to Reggae. My man Kris Ex was in the studio with me one day and heard that shit and said yo man put it in "The Ecleftic".
KM: "Blunted on Reality" your first CD was basically a failure, but the track "Nappy Heads" was an underground Hip-Hop hit. How did the Fugees draw from that one track?
Wyclef: The big picture kept me going. The energy comes from God. Iām Haitian and we donāt give up. "Iām Haitian" is the same thing as saying "Iām smart". You know what Iām saying? Haitians are some smart cats. Weāve been through a lot of shit and we know how to get by.
KM: If you believe in God, what role does voodoo play in your life?
Wyclef: God is whatever form of the creator you believe in. I believe in God. Itās what I draw from. God means you from the most high. I believe in my faith. Voodoo is a religion. I donāt practice voodoo. My grandfather was a voodoo priest. You should ask him about voodoo (he ads cynically) but heās dead now. My father is a Christian minister. He has a church and I grew up believing in God.
KM: So what is all the hoopla thatās made about you and voodoo?
Wyclef: Man, you know how some people are! You say youāre Haitian and they automatically associate you with voodoo like we donāt believe in God. You say voodoo and they think weāre someplace cutting chicken heads and they get off on that shit. Yeah, some shit was printed about me and voodoo, but like I said, I donāt practice voodoo.
KM: Have you heard any recent Haitian records? Which ones have grabbed your attention?
Wyclef: I really donāt know that much about the Haitian bands or their music to say like one is slamming more than the other. All I know is that Ti Manno is the man! Iām feeling that cat. There are a lot of good Haitian singers, but writing a song is more than just singing, itās about lyrics, and Ti Manno can hold it down. Have you ever really sat down to listen to his words? That cat is deep!
KM: Why hasnāt Compas crossed over to the American market like Reggae or Latin music? Do you even think it can?
Wyclef: The Latinos have been in this game for a long time. It may seem that they came out of nowhere, but they paid their dues. The Haitians (music industry) just have to be patient and learn from the Latinos how to hold it down. (Haitian) bands need to sing in English to crossover. Look at Ricky (Martin). All his cuts that were crossover successes were in English.
KM: But donāt you think that because a lot of Americans either already speak or understand Spanish makes a difference?
Wyclef: No doubt! I remember back in the days when radio stations use to play songs with Creole in it and the producers use to fade out the song before the Haitian part came in. It was the same thing with chatting and rapping on R&B tracks, but look where we are now.
KM: Would you consider yourself more Haitian or more American?
Wyclef: Iām 100% Haitian. I came here when I was 10. Iām proud to be Haitian. I still have my Haitian passport. I represent Haiti in everything that I do. Every head in the industry knows that Iām Haitian. When Iām dealing with those cats they know what Iām about. I was Haitian first. Haiti till I die!
KM: How come you donāt put more Haitian artists down with you or you donāt support them more?
Wyclef: If youāre talking about Compas, you know thatās not my scene. As far as Hip-Hop, Iām the motherfuckin' Haitian invasion. When Iām coming through niggaz know that I just donāt roll with Haitians. I invade with Haitians. Iām down for the Caribbean scene. I represent for Haiti and the Caribbean in Hip Hop, and weāre making it happen.
KM: How about Sweet Micky?
Wyclef: I would rap for Micky. Heās raw! I would do it for Micky because he keeps it real. All he has to do is call me.
KM: How about the other bands in the industry?
Wyclef: I really donāt know those other guys. When the Fugees were no one they never approached me. Only Micky gave me love, so Iāll give Micky love back, but it doesnāt mean that Iāll never work with any of them.
KM: Do you go to any "bals"?
Wyclef: I use to back in the days, but not anymore. Mad bands be hating me. When Iām out in that scene I feel all the tension. I feel the player hating and I feel them really not liking me. Thatās why I stopped going to Haitian industry events. No man. For real. I donāt want to deal with that vibe.
KM: Do you walk around with bodyguards in the U.S. or in Haiti?
Wyclef: Nah man. I just roll with my crew. And if thereās heat, ām pa mach? sang fizi. (I don't walk without a gun) Iām strapped with two nines. Thatās all I need. No bodyguards.
KM: How about when youāre in Haiti?
Wyclef: Thatās home man. I got thugs (people from the hood who are down with him and got his back) everywhere. City Soleil, Guadape, - I do a lot for my people in those places so I donāt have to worry about anything when Iām down there.
KM: Will you do Carnival in Haiti next year?
Wyclef: If I go down there for anything like that they will shut Haiti down. Carnival is definitely out of the picture. I have too many fans in Haiti. That combined with some other issues would make it an uncomfortable situation down there.
KM: Whoās they?
Wyclef: Thereās just a lot of conflict. A lot of things need to be worked out. I got mad love for my country. "Peyi mwen belle. Epi li douce." But thereās still some major issues. I would love to go back to Haiti to do it for the Haitian massive. I know the fans there love me and want to see me. Believe me, I want to do it for Haiti, let me come again (he pauses), thereās a lot I can do for Haiti. But the time is not right. And Iām not in it for the money.
KM: For example, are you talking about the airport you want to build?
Wyclef: Yeah man! (His voice gets excited). I want to build an airport right damn in the middle of the country. You hear?! The people there they deserve it. Money is not a problem. I can bring tourism to Haiti. Do you know how much I could help Haiti? I'm down with all sorts of people who are willing to help Haiti. I can bring major artists to have massive concerts. That would only be the beginning.
KM: So whatās stopping you?
Wyclef: Like I said before the time is not right.
KM: When Wyclef is done with music, where do you want to retire?
Wyclef: Wherever man. It really doesnāt matter to me. I would love to be in Haiti. "Peyi nou an belle mon chere".(Our country is beautiful) You hear me? "Pa gin oken kote like Ayiti." (There's no other place like Haiti) Haiti till I die!
KM: Any final words to the Haitian masses?
Wyclef: Yeah! Tell the bands I want them to come together. They have to stop all this fighting. This beef stuff is not working. They should represent Haiti correctly because Compas is Haitiās cultural music, the whole world is watching you know? Oh, and tell Georgy I said hi.
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