Music superstar Wyclef Jean, is featured on this episode of Dustin Plantholt’s “Life’s Tough, You Can Be Tougher” podcast.
Wyclef, or Clef, has received three Grammy Awards and earned a place among the “top 50 hip-hop players” on a special cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine. He has also collaborated with Queen, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones, and the late Michael Jackson, to make music.
And, as a solo performer, Wyclef has six albums that have sold 9 million copies. The multi-talented artist draws on elements of pop, country, folk, disco, Latin and electronic music.
Wyclef was founder and guiding member of the Fugees, a prominent hip-hop group out of New Jeresey that rocketed to fame during the mid-1990s. The Fugees’ name was a reference to the earlier refugee status of two of the three members: Wyclef and Pras Michel. Both had come to the United States from Haiti. (Wyclef was nine when he arrived.)
In 1997, the group won a Grammy Award for best rap album, “The Score,” in 1997. As one of the top hip-hop albums of all time, “The Score” climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was certified six times for platinum status in sales. It included their featured hit, a rendition of Roberta Flack’s 1973 song, “Killing Me Softly.”
The Fugees had recorded the album at Wyclef’s studio, in the basement of his uncle’s home in New Jersey.
After the group split, Wyclef became a solo performer and a producer. As he notes on his website, “If I didn’t keep moving after ‘The Score,’ you all wouldn’t have had the biggest pop song of all time.” Wyclef was referring to Shakira’s 2006 mega-hit, “Hips Don’t Lie,” a song that he co-wrote. He was also a featured performer on its recording.
Other Wyclef hits have included: “Gone Till November,” “Ghetto Superstar” (Pras with Wyclef), Carlos Santana’s No. 1 single “Maria, Maria” (with Wyclef and Product G&B) and the late Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love.”
He was the producer for Destiny Child’s breakthrough hit, “No, No, No,” when Beyoncé was just 16.
Life’s tough – you can be tougher, like Wyclef Jean, who intends to keep making music. “Every day when I wake up, I go into the studio and record,” he says. “There’s always a guitar and a piano nearby. I’m always writing, that’s my survival. I don’t go to a therapist. My therapy is when I pick up my guitar and sing.”