About The Artist
The Set List
The Influence of Carnival
Memories of his homeland, Haiti, and his Caribbean childhood play a central theme in Wyclef Jean's music. One of his biggest memories is the exhilarating experience of Carnival, a theme that permeates much of the new record. Explains Wyclef: "My first musical memories are as a kid in Haiti, and I used to hear carnival music. It's a lot of drums, a lot of percussion, a lot of energy; people wearing masks and dancing around."
Songwriting and the Big Apple
It's an age old question: What comes first - words or music? We asked Wyclef about his unique approach to the songwriting process and discovered that a great song begins with the strum of a guitar. Explains Wyclef: "The songwriting process for me usually comes from the guitar. Or my cousin Jerry 'Wonder' might come with a hot beat and I just walk in and start vibing. I love New York City a lot. A lot of times, I could be walking through New York City and I catch an energy. Or I could be in Brazil. The good thing with traveling a lot is, you get a lot of inspiration to bring back home."
The Importance of a Message
The Fugees impacted the world with their stream of social consciousness. Wyclef's solo career has been just as important. Explains the activist/artist: "I have a cult following with my music. I'm able to take the music and speak about social issues. We (artists) really get to put a stamp on the world. I'm excited that through music I'm able to teach kids to have a great time, but at the same time they're learning something without even knowing."
Like many hip-hop artists, Wyclef's story represents the great American dream. From the poverty-stricken streets of Haiti to New Jersey's projects to finding success as an international artist, Wyclef Jean is an example of strength and talent. The superstar incorporates his Caribbean beginnings into his new record, 'Carnival, Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant' - and it's a story worth hearing. Pick up a copy today.
-The Crew at Wal-Mart Soundcheck
- Nelust Wyclef Jean was born October 17, 1972 in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti
- His family left Haiti for Brooklyn, New York when Wyclef turned 9. He currently makes his home in Orange, New Jersey.
- He's married to Marie Claudinette Pierre-Jean, a Haitian-American fashion designer. The couple have one child, Angelina Claudinelle, named after their close friend Angelina Jolie.
- Due to internal conflicts, The Fugees parted ways in 1997 after releasing just two albums. Band member Pras recently told a reporter that the band is "dead."
- He's a tireless activist for his homeland, Haiti. Jean created Yéle Haiti, a foundation designed to provide humanitarian aid and rebuild the poverty-stricken nation.
- He can act. He starred as a fortune teller in the 2001 movie, 'Carmen: A Hip Hopera' alongside Beyoncé and Mos Def. He'll appear in the upcoming film 'Ghosts of Cité Soleil.'
Kicking off with the new single, 'Sweetest Girl,' Wyclef begins the set with a bang. Backing vocalists Melissa Jimenez and Italian songstress Niia lend their sweet vocals to a tune that sounds like a love song, but is really a commentary about the almighty dollar. Making direct reference to Wu Tang Clan's hit 'C.R.E.A.M,' Wyclef sings: "See I'mma tell you, like Wu told me, cash rules everything around me."
Wyclef's star-studded career shows the singer has a clear eye for talent. 'Selena,' a cut from his new album, 'Carnival II: The Memoirs of an Immigrant,' introduces Mexican singing sensation Melissa Jimenez. Sharing vocals with Wyclef, the silky-voiced senorita sings an eloquent elegy to the late Selena: "I can still hear your voice echoing through my system. Mexicana raised in America.... I wish I had a chance to meet her."
Gone Till November
It's time for a trip back to the past and 'Gone Till November' is a great reason to revisit. A fan-favorite, the fourth single from Wyclef's debut solo album, 'The Carnival,' tells a touching tale of Southern seasonal workers. Wyclef demonstrates his showmanship and delivers a hilarious anecdote about getting pulled over for a traffic ticket. Asks the officer: "Ain't you that Wyclef Jean guy that sings Gone Till November? I'm gonna let you go..."
"Put your hands in the air!" urges Wyclef, bringing his electric set to a powerful peak. Incorporating the Caribbean rhythms of his homeland Haiti, 'Carnival' is a drum-heavy groove designed to get people on their feet. Singing about the street energy and community of summer Carnival, Wyclef paints an affecting portrait of his youth: "Take me there Brazil. Take me there Trinidad. Take me there Haiti."
"We cry for peace, but we live for war" sings Wyclef in this set-closing track from the new album. 'Slow Down' is a definitive Wyclef track; the singer/songwriter delivers his social commentary with gentle lyrics and a compassionate cautionary: "Where'd the hope go? Slow down, you're moving too fast. Unless you slow down, somebody's gonna crash..."