Wyclef Jean is an artist, rapper, producer and musician who, by way of his association with hip-hop supergroup the Fugees, helped transform pop, hip-hop and R&B. When the Fugees (Jean, cousin Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill) released albumThe Score in 1996, it became one of the biggest rap albums of all time by way of its fusion of hip-hop, soul and reggae influences, and as a solo artist, Jean has managed to craft a sound that pulls together his love of Haitian music, reggae, rap and pop that helped influence a generation of artists.
With his new record Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee now out, there was no better time than our October issue to examine his life’s story in our regular Timeline feature. And while you’ll have to grab our print edition to read the piece in full, here are five noteworthy facts you may not know about Wyclef Jean, below.
1. Jean takes his share of the blame for the dissolution of the Fugees.
“We’re all human and make mistakes. I’ll keep it real with you. You can’t mix business with pleasure. Sometimes I wish that me and Lauryn had never gotten involved, you dig? You learn. So maybe if I could do it again I wouldn’t have gotten involved with Lauryn romantically. But then I don’t know that you would have gotten The Score,” he tells Exclaim! in 2017. “We never really broke up, by the way, we just stopped talking about getting together to record again. In any case, Pras has made it clear to me that he thinks I’m responsible, and I understand why he feels this. It’s because he had to manage Lauryn and me when we became a couple on the road. Every time we fought, he was in the middle, keeping us focused, telling jokes, doing whatever he could to stop things from getting too crazy. Pras was the glue that kept the Fugees together.”
2. Jean played a key role in the career success of Beyoncé — then known as a member of R&B/pop group Destiny’s Child — by producing and making a cameo appearance on platinum-selling single “No, No, No Pt. 2.”
“I always knew Beyoncé would be great,” he tells The Guardian in 2017, “because when Destiny’s Child were opening for me on tour, every time they got off stage she would go get changed then stand at the side of the stage and watch my show like a hawk.”
3. Jean believes Lauryn Hill’s first pregnancy might have contributed to the group’s breakup.
“In that moment something died between us,” Jean wrote in his 2012 memoir,Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story. “I was married and Lauryn and I were having an affair, but she led me to believe that the baby was mine, and I couldn’t forgive that.”
4. Jean filed to run for president in his native Haiti in 2010.
Requirements to run for office, however, include living in the country for the preceding five years, and Jean doesn’t meet the requirements. Jean releases an EP titled If I Were President: My Haitian Experience; single “If I Were President” is a moderate hit.
“It’s the continuation of my music and it represents both sides of life: love and hate, war and peace. It’s for all my fans. It’s for those who love me for ‘Gone ‘Til November’ and ‘Hips Don’t Lie,’ too,” he tells Consequence of Sound in 2010.
5. He still believes that the Fugees will reunite one day.
“I believe there will be a day when the Fugees get together, but everyone in the group’s gotta be ready. The Fugees are definitely going to get back together. The time will come. You’ve gotta wait, man,” he tells hip-hop site Rap-UP in 2011.
Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee is out now courtesy of Sony Legacy.