Wyclef Serves as Social Storyteller on ‘My Haitian Experience’ EP
Wyclef Jean didn’t score the prestigious title of Haiti’s Commander-in-Chief, but the rapper/producer never let the upset deter him from returning to the profession that originally pushed him in front of the public’s eye. Armed with a “good friend” — a maroon guitar — Wyclef acts as a political and social storyteller on his new EP, ‘If I Were President: My Haitian Experience.’
On the effort, out today (Dec. 7), the dexterous producer enlists his brother Sedek to create a six-track work that details his ordeals with the country, both positive and negative, over funky grooves. From ‘Death Threats’ (“In the middle of the night when I was in Haiti, I get a call and dude’s like, ‘Hey, you know you got a pretty daughter and a pretty wife’”) to ‘Prison K’ (‘It’s a song that I did in Creole because apparently when I was running for the presidency they said, ‘Wyclef Jean spoke no Creole’), Wyclef’s music represents struggle and the desire to overcome it, similar to the tunes of greats like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley.
While the project — featured exclusively on iTunes — is rather dark, Wyclef promises his forthcoming album, ‘If I Was President,’ due next year, will be brighter. The first single he’s aiming for, titled ‘Forever,’ features a sassy UK darling. “Just think, Wyclef and Estelle, vocally our voices just match,” the rhymer reveals as he plays with the sleeve of his black leather jacket. “The [premise of the] single is, no matter what we go through, we’re still gonna be around forever. Real talk, like my girl, she was with me when I use to borrow money from her to go to the club. That’s still the one I’m with, you feel me?”
Throughout his storied career, Wyclef has worn a badge of lyrical honor, dating back to his days as a triumvirate with Lauryn Hill and Pras. Dedicated fans have championed the trio in hopes that, one day, they would reunite since disbanding in 1997. While the outlook on a comeback as a formidable rapping force is doubtful, Wyclef still has memories to look back on. Take a tour in Japan, for example. Before hitting the stage, the ‘No Woman, No Cry’ performer recalls how Pras indulged in a bit too much sake, causing him to lose his balance in front of thousands.
“He fell off the stage and he was doing his verse from the ground,” Wyclef discloses. “The thing about a Fugee is it don’t matter if you’re on the ground, the verse is gonna continue… And the fans loved it. It’s probably one of my best Fugees moment.”
When he puts on his political hat, the Haitian immigrant prides himself on a moment that could have turned to bloodshed had it not been for his words of wisdom. After hearing news he was rejected from the Haitian presidency, Wyclef utilized his ability to lead in order to keep the country’s inhabitants from uprising. “I got on the radio and I told all my people, ‘Do not even raise an inch, do not react because this is what they think we gonna do,’” he admits. “No one can say that one person got killed.”
Through his Yéle Haiti organization, Wyclef is dedicated to assisting the country he left as a child but never turned his back on. “We going to continue fighting for the rights of the [Haitian] people,” he states. The mark of a true president, if only in his dreams.