Wyclef Jean is an American-Haitian rapper and song-writer who is widely recognised for his album, ‘The Score’ that became a roaring success. Raised by a preacher father, he initially started his musical career by singing in church choirs. As a young boy, he was forbidden to listen to rap music and whenever he did so, he was severely caned for ‘playing the devil’s music’. Despite being prohibited by his father, Jean formed a band with two of his singer-songwriter friends. Though their first album was received warmly, it was their second album that brought them recognition. But soon, the trio split to venture ‘solo’ and Jean released his debut solo album that made waves in the world of music. This lead to the release of a series of hit singles and he was even invited to collaborate with several musicians and singers. Apart from his musical career, he also hinted his political ambitions by filing his candidature in the 2010 Haitian presidential elections. He is the founder of the ‘Yele Haiti’ organization, known for its charitable works for the poor and victims of natural disasters. He has received many prestigious awards for music and honoured for his humanitarian services.
Childhood & Early Life
Wyclef Jean, also known as Nel Ust Wyclef Jean, was born to a Nazarene pastor, Gesner Jean, in the small town of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.
He and his three siblings were raised by their relatives when their parents moved to America. Later, young Jean also moved to the US at the age of 9.
He graduated from Vailsburg High School, Newark, after which he enrolled at the Eastern Nazarene College, Massachusetts. He briefly studied at the Five Town’s College in Dix Hill, and dropped out to pursue a career in music.
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He collaborated with singer-songwriters Lauryn Hill and Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel, to form ‘The Refugee Camp’ band, which was later renamed to ‘The Fugees’. In 1993, they signed a record deal with ‘Ruffhouse Records’ and released their first album, ‘Blunted on Reality’, which became a moderate success.
The trio went on to release their second and highly successful album, ‘The Score’ in 1996. After this, he announced the release of his debut solo album, ‘The Carnival-1997’, which featured Hill and Pras, and contained two hit singles.
In the early 2000s, his solo albums, ‘The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book’ ‘Masquerade’, ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘The Preacher’s Son’ were released. Around this time, he also featured in hit albums by other popular singers like Whitney Houston, Shakira and Carlos Santana.
He has also written songs for some movies including ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ as well as for the documentary movie, ‘The Agronomist’.
In 2007, his single ’Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)’ from his album, ‘Carnival Vol. II’ featuring rapper Lil Wayne and Akon, became a huge hit.
On November 10, 2009, his ‘Extended Play (EP)’ album, ‘From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion’ was released, which featured Lil’Kim and Timbaland.
He is also famous for his charitable works through the ‘Wyclef Jean Foundation’ (later renamed as ‘Yele Haiti’), which was founded in 1988. This foundation is located in Illinois, U.S. and was primarily established to help the victims of ‘Hurricane Jeanne’.
On August 20, 2010, he announced his candidature for the Haitian presidential election, but it was rejected by the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council as he did not fulfil certain residential requirements.
The 1996 album, ‘The Score’, ranked number 477 in the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine’s list of ‘500 greatest albums of all time’ in 2003, was a major breakthrough in Jean’s musical career. It fetched the ‘Fugees’ their first ‘Grammy Award’ in two categories. It sold over 18 million copies and was on the no. 1 slot on the ‘Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums’ and ‘Billboard 200’.
Awards & Achievements
In 2005, he shared the ‘Golden Satellite Award’ for ‘Best Original Song’ with Andrea Guerra and Jerry Duplessis, for the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’.
He also won the ‘BET Award’ for his humanitarian efforts in 2009.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Marie Claudinette in 1994 and the couple adopted daughter, Angelina Claudette Jean in March 2005.
In 2009, they renewed their wedding vows and currently stay together in New York City.
This Haitian rapper-songwriter, owns one of the fastest cars in the world, the McLaren F1 super car.