[Interview] Watch Wyclef Jean Pass His Wisdom On To A New Generation And Perform An Exclusive Acoustic Set
Wyclef Jean is an influential person in our society. Throughout the past and present, he's influenced governments, fans, and peers. What does it take to become an influential person? It takes wisdom, a lot of wisdom. (Plus, a man that can quote America's founding fathers and Pusha T in the same juncture is just plain inspirational).
The year was 1997 and "Rick Dees Weekly Top 40" countdown aired on the radio every Sunday night. I would stay up past my bedtime with my headphones plugged into my boombox to listen because I was waiting to hear the song that made my soul feel like it was being lifted from my body, "Killing Me Softly" by the Fugees. It's still one of those songs you have to sing with your eyes closed to truly feel the meaning behind the lyrics. It's more than a song, it's an anthem.
Fast-forward to 2017 and I'm watching Wyclef Jean walk into our studio for an interview. He agreed to talk with Bullet Music during his stop in Atlanta where he was set to perform at Terminal West to promote his upcoming album, Carnival III. The album is currently available for pre-order and will be released in its entirety on Sept. 15, 2017.
"The most special thing for anyone that is going to pick up Carnival III, it's 1997 meets 2017."
He went on to explain how he worked with producer Supah Mario who was influenced by Wyclef's album Carnival, and together they created the first single, "Fela Kuti." Wyclef also collaborated with another DJ/producer crew, The Knocks, to produce the second single, "What Happened To Love (ft. LunchMoney)."
"This is what makes it special because it's a fusion of culture, we're celebrating culture, but at the same time, we're crossing generations and showing what happens with the youth meets the older generation and you put the two together," Wyclef explained.
Wyclef's show at Terminal West was one of the best live performances I've ever seen. Perhaps it was mostly my nostalgia of the '90s, but the vibes permeating the air were so thick you would need a steak knife to penetrate them. When I looked around, everyone was smiling and singing and I could tell they were so happy to see someone who had such an influence on their life playing on the stage directly in front of them.
"He played every instrument on the stage," said one fan as they were leaving the show.
From the start of the show to the end there was non-stop dancing as Wyclef took us on a journey through his music, songs by the Fugees (he even had a guy come up and rap "Ready or Not" on stage with him). He played Bob Marley covers, Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," and it wouldn't have been an ATL show without trap music. You know you're getting older when your shoulders hurt the next day from putting your hands up in the air so many times.
Wyclef spoke out against President Trump while on stage and alluded to him during our interview, "I think we've all figured out billionaires can be idiots at times."
During our chat, Wyclef also touched on issues of local governments failing neighborhoods, the effects of gentrification, being racially profiled in L.A., working with Young Thug on his latest EP J'ouvert, and the importance of family. "Uncle Clef" went on to play an exclusive rare acoustic performance of "Gone Till November" and "Hendrix."
Watch the full video here.
Filmed and directed by Vince Gulino.
Photos by Stephanie Heath for Bullet Music.