Jean, member of the legendary group The Fugees and Hip-Hop producer, talks about his childhood in Haiti, post-race politics, and working again with Lauryn Hill.
Question: Do you remember your childhood in Haiti?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, basically my vivid memories in Haiti is -- the best way to explain it -- think about, like, the Godfather movie when they go back in time and then it’s this small village with the donkeys. I mean, think about that, but mine is, you know, the luxury of the harvest. It was just a very poor community and no electricity, but a lot of drums, a lot of native drums which kept the energy going. And I always remember, like, my grandma a lot because my grandma gave us, like, a penny every Sunday to go to church, and sometimes we took that penny and bought some candy with it. But despite, like, how poor we were, she always found a penny every Sunday. And I was like -- she always was, like, you know, giving is caring. So automatically, I mean, those are some of my memories of Haiti -- the rain, you know, the constant, like, [Africanism]. It was just an energy like, <singing>. And it was like -- it just feels -- so at times whenever I feel, like, down, I can hear, like, these tribal sounds in my head, and it picks me up.
Question: What were your first impressions of New York?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, when I first moved to New York, coming from the small village, the tale was that America, the land of diamonds. So we thought that, you know, we would land and then there would be diamonds falling from the sky. You know, that was basically the impression, and we got on a plane -- and keep in mind that village I told you I came from. So now I’m on a plane; and then as the plane is going, and we’re coming to New York City, and I see a bunch of lights. And I look at my brothers, “Yo, we’re rich. The city of diamonds, we are rich, we have arrived.” And so my first impression of New York City was like wow. You know, I think it’s the first impression of a kid that’s old enough to understand Disneyland, and then they get there and they’re just like, wow, you know?Topic: Adjusting to AmericaWyclef Jean: I mean, my adjustment, you know, like, coming from Haiti and then growing up first in the projects of Marlboro and Coney Island, you know, it was a rough start because there’s a language barrier and something is going on.
So the first thing you do is you try to learn the language and try to see if you could fit in with the culture. And at the time what helped me a lot was Hip Hop music because there was a lot of breakdancing going on, a lot of graffiti going on, and it was sort of like -- it starts out with the stereotype of, “Go back to Jamaica, you. ‘Yo, man, I ain’t from Jamaica. Haiti.’ Go back to Haiti. ‘Do you know where Haiti is at?’ No, I don’t know where Haiti’s at.” So it’s like, think -- things that kids go through. And then you’re like, I need acceptance; I want these people to respect me. so I’m gonna do their music better than them, I’m gonna do this better than them, and I’m gonna -- so as a kid you just start challenging yourself. In a couple of years you naturally pick up the culture, and I think what really helped me a lot was the Reggae music and the Hip Hop music.
Question: Why is Creole so important to you?
Wyclef Jean: The Creole language is the language of my country, Haiti, and why is this so important to me because the natives speak Creole and then they have to learn French, right? So somewhere along the line I lost my French, but I never lost my Creole. It was sort of like -- it’s important that you have an identity, you know? And what I mean by that is, you know, if there’s a language that has been spoken like, you know, your mom speak it, your grandma speak it, your grandma’s mother speak it, your mother’s grandma speak it, and then you don’t speak it.
What end up happening is, you know, you just broke the generation gap because your kid’s not going to speak it, and it’s very important when you have a language that’s a language from where you from and it represents culture. So I could never lose my Creole because that represents the culture. The strong identification with Haiti comes from my parents. Yes, I come to the States at a young age, but inside of the house, the culture that we was raised with is the culture of the islands and what we came up with. My mother always say, “Well, outside of the house, you can be as American as you want to; but when you get in this house, you Haitian. You eat Haitian food, you talk Creole, you listen to Haitian music.” I’m like, “No.” But it actually was a great thing.
Question: When did you decide to pursue music?
Wyclef Jean: I decided to do what I do when I was 2 years old. At 2 years old, you know, I heard the sound of a drum playing in the village, and I found my own drum and just picked it up and started playing <singing>, the worst song ever written by Wyclef Jean. But <laugh> it actually started a vibe. Professionally, I started doing what I was doing when I turned, like, 13 years old. And not -- ‘cause a lot of times it surprise people what I do because they say, “Aren’t you a Hip Hop artist?” Like, “How do you know about Bob? How do you know about Art and [Blinky]?
How do you know about Crystal Gale? How do you know about Pink Floyd?” Well, understand that, you know, my background and naturally what I grew up with was music in the church. And in going to high school, I got introduced to Jazz. And from the 9th grade to the 12th grade, all I did was study and play Jazz all day. So for me, it’s just -- then I turned 18 years old and got my first contract with Atlantic Records Big Beat. At the time they just released Nelson Mandela, and I did a record called “Out of the Jungle,” and it was dedicated to Nelson Mandela. And I got with my group, The Fugees, in, like, 1989, and which was like a high school band for me. And basically with The Fugees I went on to doing my first CD. The first CD was called “Blunted on Reality.” It was me, Pras, and Lauren. Why did this thing work? It worked because you had three individuals from three different styles of music. Lauren taught me about R&B, ‘cause at the time I was more into, like, church music, Reggae, or Rock, you know. Pras was just a Rock head. And so Lauren would come -- Stylistics. What’s that, you know.
And then she would play it. And then I would automatically learn it. The first CD was called “Blunted on Reality.” It basically tanked. And in the second CD we went to my basement, my uncle’s basement. Me and Jerry Wonder got together -- Lauren and Pras -- and created a classic that sold basically 22 million. That CD was done inside of a basement. So if you’re doing music in your basement or in your garage, I always say, “That’s the best place.” I think that’s where you’re gonna get your best <laugh> material from, or the bathroom <laugh>.
Question: How would you categorize your music?
Wyclef Jean: I mean the Wyclef Jean music is eclectic music. Wyclef represents [ecleftic] music -eclectic music. I’ve been doing this music since I was a child, and I said I will refuse for anyone to put me into a box. Whenever I want to listen to Celia Cruz, I will. When I wanna hear Pink Floyd, I will. When I wanna hear Bob Marley, I will. I wanna hear Nirvana, I will. I can and I will. I wanna listen to Jay-Z, I will -- Biggie Smalls, Tupac -- and this is the iPod of a kid today. So the Wyclef Jean music is just eclectic music. It’s called good music.
Question: Who informs your music?
Wyclef Jean: I mean my influences range from like Jimi Hendrix, to Bob Marley, to Marvin Gaye. And then one of my favorite, like, singers -- you know, when I hear him I could identify with his voice. You know, a lot of people be like, “Man, how is Johnny Cash,” you know what I’m saying? I like Johnny Cash a lot. Like, my dad was a minister and stuff and just growing up in the church, and I grew up with a lot of Christian rock and -- so that’s some of it <laugh>.
Question: How has Haitian music influenced your music?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, the Haitian music -- one of my favorite bands is called Boukman Eksperyans. And Boukman Eksperyans represents the true roots and the culture of what Haitian music is to me. You know, that band is a band when I hear it, and they say there’s a connection with Haiti and Africa. I naturally could feel that connection. It represents Rasin. The translation for Rasin is roots. When you listen to that music, then you understand the connection of, you know, where the Haitians are from and why the rhythm sound like that. It’s the natural music of the country and in the young generation to listen to a form of music which is called Kompa music. And Kompa music is more like - there’s bands like Djakout Mizik, there’s bands like T-Vice, bands like Carimi, that’s sort of like -- you could say it like this: Bob Marley and then there’s Dancehall.
You know what I’m saying? So that’s the best way to describe it, like there’s Rasin and then there’s Kompa. So the younger kids are definitely more into the Kompa, which is a traditional, like, form of, like, dance music from the islands created in Haiti, which definitely has a lot of influence on what I do.
Question: How has your music evolved over the course of your career?
Wyclef Jean: My music evolved -- I mean, at this point, you know what I’m saying, it’s like -- you know, my role model, you know I’m saying -- like I’m a young Quincy Jones, you know? Like, what I mean by that is that’s my blueprint, you know, and I feel like my career is just getting started, you know. I’m into a lot of scoring music now, I like the sounds of scores, you know, I wanna do, like, big soundtracks for movies, you know, I wanna, like, develop more of the Wyclef sound, the sonic sound and get my own label, Carnival House Records, and start to find great talent, develop it and help expand it.
Question: Would you ever collaborate with Lauryn Hill again?
Wyclef Jean: In terms of personal music, I would love to collaborate with Lauren, with Pras definitely. Whenever they’re ready, I’m always ready as a producer to get The Fugees crackin’. What’s holding The Fugees back? Lauren, hurry up.
Question: How has technology changed the music industry
Wyclef Jean: I mean, when I recorded the CD in the basement, we was able to sell 22 million copies because the Internet had not evolved, you know, the way that it did now. If it did, the kids would probably -- we’d probably sell 2 million copies because the kids would be able to go and download piece by piece and get all the songs. The content with all of the technology that’s out there, you get everything quicker, there’s quicker access to everything, and everything is basically free through the Internet -- I mean, from movies, to music, to whatever you want.
For a kid to actually go to the store and pick up the actual CD, they gotta feel like it’s PlayStation game coming out or something <laugh>, you know.
And -- but the thing is, I say, while that’s going on, creative music always sells. So whether it’s through the technology, whether it’s through the people coming to the live concert, you know, you can’t slack on your music or your live shows because the sales that you want are not matching, because you can get those same sales with the live concerts. So what you gotta do is -- us as musicians, true musicians, we have to work four times harder because to go platinum, to go double-platinum, to go triple-platinum, you basically have to be out there half of the year promoting and travel in different parts of the world. Unlike before, it was a little easier, like you could just do the CD. And if people like it, you know, enough people will buy it because they didn’t have access to it. That’s where the technology changes.
Question: Has the music industry been too slow to catch on?
Wyclef Jean: I think, you know, the music industry will always be relevant in the sense of, you know, you need artists, you know. And -- but of course I think that they felt like -- if the music industry knew what technology was gonna do, I think that -- with the Web and everything -- I think they would’ve adapted and bought those companies and actually made those companies part of the music industry today.
Question: How is producing artists different?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, it’s -- today it’s a little different with the artist. Back in the days we had artist development; there was a budget for artist development. So if you basically find a artist, you gotta have the money now to develop it. ‘Cause basically a label is not gonna give no money for artist development. They want their artist to come in fine-tuned and ready to go. So this is where you gotta, you know, pick and choose exactly what you wanna work on.
Question: What do you make of all the celebrities recording albums?
Wyclef Jean: Well, I think whether if it’s Lindsay or Paris, you know, like, people would be like, “Well, why are they doing records?” You know what I mean? I think music is self-expression. Everybody is entitled to express music however they feel and they wanna express it, and I think it’s up to the person to decide what they’re gonna wanna listen to. You understand? You gotta choice -- Wyclef-Lindsay. What do you wanna listen to? You know, you gotta a choice -- Paris-Alicia Keys. What do you wanna listen to? And I think at the end of the day -- you know you can’t knock anyone’s hustle because at the end of the day everyone is just trying to find what works for them best.
Question: Is hip-hop poetry?
Wyclef Jean: Hip Hop is the culture. Rap is part of Hip Hop -- spoken word, which is poetry, is part of Hip Hop, yes. I mean, the lyrics that I write are definitely poetry. It’s -- you know, you sit and you look back at it and what it is is, it’s self-expression, definitely.
Question: Does hip-hop reinforce racial stereotypes?
Wyclef Jean: I think Hip Hop culture is a representation of communities. So wherever you go, like you go here and you go to Pakistan, you go to Russia -- wherever you go and you look for the Hip Hop culture, it’s gonna be an expression of what that environment is going through. And the kids are probably gonna be talking about the topics of what’s going on within that environment. So, you know, you might be in the States and be like, “Yo, this rap’s stuff all about bling-bling, gansters, and,” you know? But going to the environment and talk to these kids and ask them when’s the last time they came and built a school here. When has they put new buildings here? When they had -- so the kids stay on a corner and they fantasize about this luxurious lifestyle that we portray because it’s a imaginary world of what we wish we had. Because, you know, we can’t see past that because they’re not really helping the communities and bringing in people to really help change these communities.
Question: Is that imagined reality a sugar pill?
Wyclef Jean: Yeah. I think there’s two forms of imaginary world. There is the imaginary world where, you know, you watch the TV and you think you can get it like that. That’s killing the kids; that’s wrong, you know what I’m saying? Because I was imagining that I was gonna play at Madison Square Garden, but I was working in a fast-food restaurant. Okay, kids? So that’s the truth, which means, like, don’t think like you see a cat out there and you see the blings and the cars that all of a sudden they just did that. And then you can’t get that, you’re like, “Okay. Well, let me go and, you know, sell some more of this crack, you what I’m saying? ‘Cause this Rapper say he just sold crack.” Well, the rapper didn’t tell you sell crack, he ain’t selling crack no more, and if he does he’s going to jail. You understand? And after he told you he sold crack in the lyrics, he’s back in the nice mansion. So you go ahead and wanna emulate that, and then you’re in jail for 20 years. Think, homey.
Question: Where is hip-hop headed?
Wyclef Jean: I think the culture of Hip Hop is spreading through the world and it can’t -- it can’t slow down because what happened is every place there’s communities, and all these communities have they own expression of Hip Hop and what they wanna talk about. I think Rap music in the States -- you know we’re in a situation right now where we’re trying to figure out what it is, you know what I’m saying, because every other person is a Rapper. So what’s gonna determine, you know, your life as a rapper? Every other person’s a rapper, every other person’s talking about Jews, every other person’s talking about champagne, every other person’s talking about they rims and they’re grills.
That’s every other person. So, like, the lifespan of a Rapper now is probably eight months. So we’re like, “Yo, where’s the actual go,” you know what I’m saying? So it’s like, you know, you still got the Commons, you know. You’d have -- you still have people that represents they side. T.I. represents his side, Lil Wayne has his side, you know, Common, Kanye, you know what I’m saying; Lupe Fiasco just came and claimed his side. So I think, you know, it could get interesting, but we just need more variety so that it could be sustainable. Because if we don’t get more variety, then what’s gonna end up happening is it’s just gonna get boring.
Question: Where do you see hip-hop in 15-20 years?
Wyclef Jean: In 15, 20 years, you know, Hip Hop will always be around, the culture will be around, but it will be in a new form of a new expression, and it’s probably gonna go back to melodies and songs.
Question: What has been your experience of race in America?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, really, man, the issue of race, no matter how much we wanna, like, ignore it, you know what I’m saying, we have to talk about it ‘cause that’s how we’re gonna move forward. I feel that this new generation are not prejudiced at all, the majority of the generation, you know what I’m saying? But then you still got like, you know, 10% that’s trying to hold on to the past, you know what I’m saying? Like you’re black, you know what I’m saying, you’re Asian, you’re, you know -- you’re a White, you’re a -- you know what I mean?
You seen a lot of the hate crimes that has been happening, you know what I’m saying, and I feel that right now where we’re at with the world, we have to realize that we really want people. And what I mean by that is not in a cliché way, but if you check your blood, you check my blood; it’s really the same blood at the end of the day, theoretically speaking. So, you know, what I faced was always like, you know, as a Haitian, there’s always a stereotype and a stigma which goes with us, you know what I’m saying? Like, okay, you’re a Haitian, you’re a boat person, you stink, you brought AIDS. These are the kind of stigmas when I look at you and I’m like, you don’t have a clue, you’re ignorant, you don’t know what’s going on, you understand what I’m saying to you? And these are the stigmas that I fight for as a Haitian every day to basically say, “You all need to get past that BS and let’s deal with some of the realities and facts of the world.”
Question: What did you think of Obama’s speech on race?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, I think Obama gave a great speech on race. I could definitely relate to it because, you know, coming from Haiti, you know, you have, like, what’s still called the upper class and then what’s considered the lower class, you know what I’m saying? And sometimes, you know, because someone from the upper class makes it, the lower class wanna hate. And you say, “Where the hell is this hate coming from”? Like, why do they feel a certain way? Well, they feel that way because there’s nothing with being part of the upper class, but they take it back two generations or three generations before, and that hate is coming from the fact if they’re saying, “Well, our super-super ancestors were slaves,” you know, and we basically feel like we’re in the same position. So a lot of times when you see hate and the issue of race, you gotta ask yourself, “Where actually is this hate coming from”? No one is really making this hate up. Like, there was one time where people was really getting lynched. There was really one time [siccing] dogs on people. Like, there’s –- that’s Martin Luther King. He got shot. Like, this is for real. Like, there’s a time where people was angry, you understand?
And similar to Obama, I mean, what I feel is that -- you know, there’s Moses, right, and then Moses could go but so far. And then Moses looked and he said, Joshua, go ahead, handle it. So I feel like we’re the Joshuas of today. So I feel like being the Joshuas of today we gotta get past the old situation and moving forward for it to work. We all have to feel like we one race. I don’t know the last time you checked the economy. They don’t say, okay, well you’re not -- you losing your house because you’re white or you’re not losing your house because you’re black or you’re yellow. No. They’re like, “Yo, you can’t pay for this house.” We’re all in this thing together. So we need to get past this race issue and start dealing with reality.
Question: Is the new generation done?
Wyclef Jean: I think the new generation of Joshuas, like, we’re not done, but we need to start. And I think where we start at is unifying and really being one and really not waiting for things to be in a bad position to really talk about it, to really understand that we’re leaders. You can pick up a pen and write to Congress, you can e-mail if you don’t like certain things from the beginning because there is a real constitution and they need to respect the generation that’s coming up and that we’re dealing with that right now.
I think that’s very important, that you exercise your rights before something goes down, and that’s when you feel like you wanna deal with it. Then people don’t take you seriously ‘cause they’re like, “Oh, you only apply action when you feel it’s necessary.” We’ll, I feel that action is necessary all the time.
There’s so much things that are going on in the world -- from Africa, to Asia, to back in your own hometown where you are right now, you’re sitting in a community. You might not be happy with the community. Maybe you don’t want them to break that building down right there because that building represents a monument, something for the community. Well, talk about it. Write to the Mayor. You understand? Maybe you need more funds for the school, you don’t like the way this school is being treated. You like and you’re like, “Well, where is these funds for education”? Get together, rally with the kids, and talk about this. This -- you have -- this is what we have to do to start moving forward.
Question: Is Obama really the post-racial candidate?
Wyclef Jean: I think that when people look at Obama, they have to stop saying, “Okay, it’s a race,” you know what I mean? Because what happens is when you look at Obama, he’s a man. So it’s like when you look at someone, you gotta get, you know, past the level. Like, look at the debates. He’s an educated man. He has the gift of speaking to people. He has the gift of going anywhere around the world and actually being in a room with someone and looking at them in the eyes and having a conversation. What I love most about Obama -- and this is why you all gotta get past this whole race shit, period, Clef said so. What I love most about Obama is Obama says, “We gotta get off this high horse that we on and start to deal with things direct.” And I think to move forward as a race and as people, we have to start doing that.
Wyclef Jean: Well, I’m encouraging the Joshua generation to definitely go out and vote for Obama.
Question: Why did you write the song “If I Was President”?
Wyclef Jean: The song “If I Was President” -- I get elected on Friday assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, then they go back to work on Monday as if nothing happened. It was this song that was inspired by a conspiracy theory -- you know, sitting back, looking at what’s going on in the war, the billions of dollars that’s being spent. And the fact of whenever someone is coming in to actually present truth, they shoot them down. So then I put myself in the position of, you know, if I was President they probably take me out the way they took Martin Luther out or the way they took Kennedy out. But at the same time, we should strive to be the President, meaning that the best that we can be. Tell the children the truth.
Question: What do you think of will.i.am’s video?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, will.i.am’s a great producer, you know, I call him the Little Clef. And I have respect for him as a producer, you know, and when he did the “Yes We Can,” my respect for him, though, went to level 300 because this is what it’s about. When you have kids like that that see Obama and then they just get inspired. So, yes, there is room for music. And people say, “Is there room for music and politics”? I said, “Oh, you mean [politricks]?” So there’s room for music and social issues; but whenever we decide to talk about social issues, you call them politics. We call them politricks. We say, “Leave the politics for the politicians and let’s deal with these social issues.”
Question: What is the Yéle Foundation?
Wyclef Jean: Yéle, Y-E-L-E -- we have a foundation and a website, Yéle, Yele.org. It’s a foundation I started a few years ago, and we started it because we wanted to bring self esteem back to Haiti, and currently 7,000 kids have scholarships. We started something which is called Hip Hop [Ensete], Hip Hop for Health, mobile clinics going throughout Haiti giving people HIV tests, giving them condoms, but through music. There’s also a Children Prison program where we’ve went into these prisons where there’s kids, introduced chess, took over the prisons -- put more beds, basketball courts -- and these kids are reading.
And every time I go down there tears come to my eyes because I knew how it was in the beginning. A lot of these kids was in gangs, most terrible violence you could thing about. And Yéle is actually - the movement is really working, and it’s -- the greatest thing is when I look at a kid, and I noticed that I can rise his self esteem. Because someone rose my self esteem, that’s why I’m here. That’s Yéle.
Topic: Making sure it works
Wyclef Jean: Well, the first thing is we have a documentary coming out which is called “Cry Haiti,” and this is my work on the ground for the past three years. I didn’t leave the ground until I felt that the people on the ground understood what we was doing and we was training. So I kept going back and forth, back and forth, and now I feel like we have a great team on the ground, we have a great [NGOs]. But to get it, it took three years of me going back and forth to Haiti. A lot of times when you’re starting foundations, for it to really work you have to be hand-on for the first couple of years, and right now it’s a natural will. It’s moving.
Question: What gap does celebrity charity work fill?
Wyclef Jean: Well, the gap that the celebrity fills is that the celebrity can reach millions of people like that. So the fact that they lend they voice or they name to Africa, it makes millions of people that wouldn’t even care about Africa look towards what’s going on in Africa.
Question: Is there a distinction between effective and ineffective celebrity charity?
Wyclef Jean: Well, I think, you know, there’s -- I think a celebrity, period, doing any form of charity is a great thing because a celebrity don’t really have to do anything, as much as you wanna think they do, they’re celebrities. So they could actually just chill and don’t do nothing, but the thing is -- but then there’s those celebrities that don’t only lend they name, they act on it. And of course the bar is rose so high for these celebrities. People like Angelina Jolie, she been to Haiti with me, Brad Pitt. I mean, look what Brad’s doing at New Orleans, you know what I’m saying, real initiatives; George Clooney, like, going to these places, looking with their eyes and learning, and then bringing the information back to the American people. I think that’s where the future is heading.
Question: Are celebrities’ high-rolling lifestyles good for us?
Wyclef Jean: Well, the high-rolling style that’s portrayed on the television is basically a dream, meaning that if you have a dream, it can happen, it could come true. In a way it’s good for kids to see that, but a lot of times I feel like - all right, if you’re telling the high rollers, I think the stories just started from the rags-to-riches. ‘Cause when you do that, then it’s a sense and it makes sense, but the idea of just flossing, you know, hundreds and millions of dollars and then jumping on a plane and then a boat, and then kids really think that, you know, it’s your boat. What I have learned is, let me tell you kids something -- this is what I’ve learned through my years.
The people with the real money don’t do any of that stuff. Nine times out of 10, they’re in a room you won’t even know who they are unless you hear people talking about them. So the thing about it is, when you seeing all this high rolling and you like -- I’m gonna tell you what a tycoon said -- tycoon has billions of dollars. The tycoon said, “Wyclef, you know what’s funny about you guys? You all wanna be us and we wanna be y’all.” And that’s like the best way to <laugh> explain it, you know what I’m saying?
Question: Is pop music culture disrespectful to women?
Wyclef Jean: Well, I think that, you know, first of all, the women that are portrayed like that in the videos, they wanna be portrayed like that in the videos or they wouldn’t come to the video shoot. So that means that there’s a gang of women out there that wants to be portrayed like that. You understand what I’m saying to you? Because the women that don’t wanna be portrayed like that, they won’t be nowhere by those videos. You understand what I’m saying to you? And I think that the idea of degrading women and making women look like they’re sluts, they’re ‘ho’s, they’re nothing, they just, you know -- it’s not a great example, you know I’m saying, because we all got a mom, you know I mean, and we wouldn’t wanna portray our moms like that.
You see what I’m saying? So the bottom line is you have to be conscious of what you portraying because when you end up having a daughter, I’m sure you ain’t gonna want your daughter jumping around like that and acting like that. So you have to make sure that you put a thin line. And if you’re doing a video like that, I think you should basically do it in a smart way. Like, you could be way more clever with it opposed to, “All right. Now time to drop champagne on her head.” I think it’s corny. I think the smarter way of doing it is check out my video, “The Sweetest Girl,” baby. And you see how you wanna portray women? Get those strong women in those videos.
Question: Do you understand Dave Chapelle’s disappearance from show business?
Wyclef Jean: I mean, you know, I could definitely relate to Dave Chappelle. I mean, I basically -- I think I left the music industry for, like, three years. A lot of people was like, what Wyclef’s doing, and it basically looked like I was out of the scene. But I went back to Haiti, started doing charity work, clearing my mind. Because sometime the industry can be -- it’s a lot of pressure because, you know, they expect you to produce. And every time you get a good one, they expect another one, then another one, then another, one; and sometimes, now you start to get tired because you’re, like, just trying to appease people opposed to, you know, just concentrating on your art.
Question: What do you think of what Rev. Wright said? Will it hurt Obama in Pennsylvania?
Wyclef Jean: Yeah. I mean that’s a good question, what do I think about Reverend Wright and what he said. Reverend Wright served in the military, correct? Was he a Marine? Right? Reverend Wright has seen what he has seen. He has what’s called freedom of speech. Do I speak like Reverend Wright? No. Do Obama speak like Reverend Wright? No. Reverend Wright speaks like Reverend Wright. He speaks as he speaks as Obama speaks as he speaks.
Obama has his views, I have my views, you understand? So meanwhile, while people are saying, you know, Obama don’t have a chance in Pennsylvania because, you know -- you know, people will vote for Hillary because of the Reverend Wright, I would just say if we’re gonna put everything out, let’s just put everything out. So you have two things to weigh here. I ain’t no political advisor, but let me give you a little logic. Reverend Wright controversy- fire under snipers. So you weigh it. Fires under snipers, Reverend Wright <laugh> controversy.
Now, really think about what you’re really saying; and if I was you, I will vote for something that’s honest and that’s not portraying something else at the time and purely just talking about what’s out there that we all talk about, we see it in the media, it’s clear. You understand what I’m saying?
Question: Were Rev. Wright’s remarks racist?
Wyclef Jean: Well, I think that, you know, certain remarks that Reverend Wright made were racist remarks, but they were racist on what he’s seen. You understand? I don’t feel that he’s a racist. I felt that they were remarks made on the racist issues that he’s seen coming up. So it’s like, you know, do I think he’s a racist? No. Does he -- well, if he’s not a racist, Clef, why did he make these racist remarks? These remarks are made on situations with portrayed racism. Like, they’re out there. So he’s speaking the same way that someone else speak, but they won’t necessarily speak out and say it.