Hip-Hop legend-turned-polarising activist/humanitarian/politician Wyclef Jean is back to working on music, with a new EP titled J’ouvert due to be released next month. He also has a single on the track with Young Thug titled ‘I Swear’, an obvious favour returned for Jean’s appearance on Thug’s latest release Jeffery (on the song ‘Kanye West’).
Recently, The Fugees emcee/producer/musician spoke to Pigeons & Planes on his homeland (which is currently reeling from the latest hurricane) and new music, as well as Carnival III, acting, Black Lives Matter and more. You can read the full feature in full here; a couple of excerpts are below:
[On Haiti’s current situation] When you live in these regions, you’re not going to avoid natural disasters. But somehow different islands are able to manage it in a way that they’re able to prepare for it through logistics, before it happens. The situation in Haiti, the whole southern coast—it’s sort of like the levee situation that happened in New Orleans. Very low-lying, there are cars floating, lots of destruction and the amount of deaths, they are not sure yet. [Ed. Note: It’s now estimated at over 1000.] The urgency right now is for shelter, wearables, and food and medicine. When you first met me, at the time  I felt like, “I can save the entire island!” Like, “I can take 15 million people and save ‘em.” But what I’ve found out since is, you have to be calm and figure out who’s already down there, like the UN, because the shit gotta get to the people. So we’re figuring it out.
[On linking up with Young Thug] My management gets the call and they’re like, “Yo, Jeffery’s trying to track you down, because there’s a track that he needs you on.” And he’s got everybody like, “Find Wyclef, find Wyclef.” So I go down to Atlanta, and the first thing he’s playing me is his mixtape. And he’s like, “You’re one of my greatest inspirations.” He shows me his tattoo, it says “Haiti.” He says, “Yo I named my daughter Haiti, my projects are named Haiti.”
Sometimes you don’t realize who you are affecting. But he’s from a project, I’m from a similar background. And he has a natural love for Haiti, understanding the history of Haiti. Haiti is the first black republic. He reminded me of a modern Tupac, in a sense—in a revolutionary sense. I mean that by, alright, you might see a thug, but his connection to history seemed similar to what Pac understood, of like, “This is who the Black Panthers are. Read this book, read that book.” This kid understands. I sent him the Ghosts of Cité Soleil documentary. He must have seen it like 10, 15 times. He is like a sponge when it comes to history. He likes to absorb a lot of information, and actually wants to learn.