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Here comes Wyclef Jean the hip-hop icon

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th July 2008 03:00 AM

WYCLEF Jean is slated to perform at Lugogo Cricket Oval on August 1 for sh35,000. The star will arrive with a crew of 16, including DJ Benny D. The DJ recently mesmerised Ugandans at Akon’s show. Local artistes are also scheduled to perform.

WYCLEF Jean is slated to perform at Lugogo Cricket Oval on August 1 for sh35,000. The star will arrive with a crew of 16, including DJ Benny D. The DJ recently mesmerised Ugandans at Akon’s show. Local artistes are also scheduled to perform.

By Jude Katende

WYCLEF Jean is slated to perform at Lugogo Cricket Oval on August 1 for sh35,000. The star will arrive with a crew of 16, including DJ Benny D. The DJ recently mesmerised Ugandans at Akon’s show. Local artistes are also scheduled to perform.

Jean’s popular songs
Apart from the songs he did when he was with the Fugees, Jean has recorded a number of popular songs.
ome of his songs have been hits in Uganda.

He has collaborated with numerous artistes and done cover versions of favourite songs including Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, Bee Gees’ Staying Alive and Cuban classic Guantanamera.
Jean’s current love affair with Ugandan music fans is the 2007 hit Sweetest Girl featuring Akon, Lil Wayne and Niia.

But perhaps his biggest song in Uganda is Hips Don’t Lie which he did with Columbian music superstar Shakira.

Illustrious career
In the late 1990s, Jean became hip-hop’s unofficial multi-cultural conscience; a seemingly omnipresent activist. He assembled or participated in numerous high-profile charity benefit shows for a variety of causes, including aid for his native Haiti.

The utopian one-world sensibility that fuelled Jean’s political consciousness also informed his recordings, which fused hip-hop with as many different styles of music as he could get his hands on (though, given his Caribbean roots, reggae was a particular favourite).

In addition to his niche as hip-hop’s foremost global citizen, Jean was also a noted producer and remixer who worked with Pop, RnB and hip-hop talent, including Whitney Houston, Santana, and Destiny’s Child.

It is rare to come across a guitar-playing rapper, but Jean occasionally strums the guitar to give his songs an electrifying feel as that noticed on 911, featuring Mary. J. Blige. Mellow tunes Take Me As I am, featuring Sharissa, and Two Wrongs featuring Claudette Ortiz, illustrate Jean’s experimental ventures.

In 1997, Jean released his debut solo album, The Carnival, featuring the Refugee All-Stars.

The album was even more musically ambitious than The Score, the Fugees’ album of the mid-90s which is considered to be one of hip-hop’s greatest albums of all time.

Its roster of guests included the Fugees, Jean’s siblings, Cuban legend Celia Cruz and Bob Marley’s female backing vocalists the I Threes.

Jean also stepped up his outside work for other artistes by collaborating as a producer, songwriter, and/or remixer with artistes like Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Eric Benet, Mya, Santana, Tevin Campbell, the Black Eyed Peas and Mick Jagger.

Although Jean had announced he would put off his sophomore effort until after the next Fugees album, he was well into the project by 2000, giving an early release of the anti-police brutality track Diallo (with guest vocals from Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour).
The full album, titled The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book, entered the charts at number nine. Jean later released other follow-up albums further signaling a distant return to the Fugees.

Jean, who wrote the song Million Voices for the film Hotel Rwanda, is also an occasional actor. He has appeared in a number of TV shows and films including Ghosts of Cite Soleil, Dirty, Be Cool, Redline and One Last Thing.

Background
The son of a minister, Nelust Wyclef Jean was born in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, on October 17, 1972. When he was nine, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, US.

His mother encouraged his musical leanings from an early age, something his father did not like. Once, when he was still underage, a recording contract fell through because his father refused to okay it.

By his teenage years, Jean had moved to New Jersey, taken up the guitar, and begun studying jazz through his high school’s music department.

In 1987, he joined a rap group with his cousin Prakazrel Michel (aka Pras) and Michel’s high-school classmate Lauryn Hill. Initially calling themselves the Tranzlator Crew, they evolved into the Fugees, a name taken from slang for Haitian refugees.

Jean cut his teeth in music as the front man/lead rapper with the Fugees, a critically-acclaimed New Jersey hip-hop group that rose to fame in the mid 1990s.

The trio signed with Ruffhouse Records in 1993 and released their debut album, Blunted on Reality in 1994. The album, which spawned two underground hits, gained little attention.

The Fugees reinvented rap with their genre-blending recordings. With traces of reggae, folk, rock, soul, country and Creole, the Fugees’ music symbolises the linkage of the African Diaspora.

The Score, their second album, became one of the biggest hits of 1996 and one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. It was number one on Billboard’s top 200, number one on top R&B/hip-hop albums and number two in the UK albums.

It spawned hits such as Fugeela, Killing Me Softly, and Ready or Not. To date, the Fugees retain the title of best selling hip-hop group, with sales reaching over 30 million albums.

In 1997, all the Fugees began solo projects. Windowsmedia.com notes that Jean was the first to embark on a solo career. He proved even more ambitious and eclectic on his own. He also began producing for and recorded his debut album The Carnival.

Shortly after, Hill started work on her critically-acclaimed The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Michel focused on soundtrack recordings and acting, though he found commercial success with his song, Ghetto Superstar.

Humanitarian efforts
Jean has been active in his native country. He created the foundation, Yele Haiti, to provide humanitarian aid and assistance. In January 2007, Jean became a roving ambassador for Haiti to help improve its image abroad.

In 2008, Yele Haiti partnered with the World Food Programme to launch Together for Haiti, another non-profit organisation.

Factfile
Albums,/b>
With Fugees
Blunted on Reality — 1994
The Score — 1996
Bootleg Versions — 1996

Solo
The Carnival — 1997
The Ecleftic: 2 Sides To a Book — 2000
Masquerade — 2002
The Preacher’s Son — 2003
Welcome to Haiti — 2004
Carnival 2: Memoirs of an Immigrant — 2007

Biggest Hits
Gone Till November
Perfect Gentleman
If I Was President
I am Your Doctor
Peace God
Party to Damascus
A Million Voices (soundtrack to Hotel Rwanda)
911 (with Mary J Blige)
Two Wrongs (with Claudette)
Ghetto Religion (with R Kelly)
Hips Don’t Lie (with Shakira)
Take Me as I am (feat Sharissa)
Mariah Mariah (feat Carlos Santana)
Sweetest Girl (With Akon, Lil Wayne and Niia)
My Love is Your Love (with Whitney Houston)

Awards
1997 Grammy AwardsBest R&B Vocal by Group — Killing Me Softly
Best Rap Album — The Score

2006 MTV Video Awards
Best Choreography — Hips Don’t Lie with Shakira

Award Nominations
1999 Grammy Awards
Best Solo Rap Performance for Gone till November
2000 Grammy Awards
Best R&B collaboration — 911 with Mary.J. Blige
2005 Golden Globe Awards
Best Soundtrack — A Million Voices
2006 Billboard awards
pop single of the year — Hips Don’t Lie

2006 MTV Video Awards

Video of the year, Best Pop Video, Best Dance Video, Best Art Direction in a video — Hips Don’t Lie
2007 MTV Latin Music Awards
Song of the year — Hips Don’t Lie

Compiled by Joseph Ssemutooke

Here comes Wyclef Jean the hip-hop icon

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