In anticipation of his appearance at The Wilbur Theatre on March 1st, WRBB’s Jasmine Chan got a chance to chat with Wyclef Jean and get an inside look on the veteran rapper whose influence has inspired countless upcoming musicians.
JC: I’m here on WRBB talking with Wyclef Jean who will be coming to The Wilbur Theatre on March 1st as part of The Carnival Tour, how are you?
WJ: I’m good, very excited.
JC: It’s Valentine’s day, so I have to ask, are you celebrating this year?
WJ: I always celebrate Valentine’s day with my lovely wifey. Even my daughter she’s 12 years old, you know, and I asked if she had a Valentine and she was telling me ‘no’, but I don’t believe her.
JC: So, it’s been 10 years since your last full tour in the US. How does it feel to be back on the road with a packed show schedule for The Carnival Tour?
WJ: It’s incredible because through the years I have records from The Fugees, to Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”, to Santana, and the list goes on. For me, to be in the modern day generation where we have kids like Young Thug that’s 24 years old naming their records after me, it’s incredible to come out and perform for the fans. They get to see it from the producer’s aspect, the composer’s aspect, which is a different kind of show. It’s very interactive with the crowd.
JC: When was the last time you were in Boston?
WJ: I probably was in Boston like 6 months ago.
JC: Just for other work?
WJ: Yeah, I just came up for some studio session work.
JC: How would you say your approach to music has evolved since The Fugees era to your most recent releases, Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee and Inspired By…
WJ: Just the technology changes, we just put an EP out called J’ouvert that streamed over 50 million on Spotify. Like I’ve said, a great song is a great song no matter the era, right? The only thing that’s gonna change is the drums, the sonics. We into trap sonics now.
JC: On your new mixtape, Inspired By… we hear you take on 2017 hip-hop. What was the reaction like from the artists you sampled like A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, and Kodak Black?
WJ: They went crazy. They all went crazy. You know, these kids look up to me. It’s different when you just say ‘oh, I respect the young generation’ and because of the way they shout me out when I see them and the respect they give me, it was important to not just say ‘you’re dope’, but actually show them how dope I think they are. When I start barring with them and I take their songs and start to flip it like a little-wave mixtape, it freaked them out, they were so excited. They were like, ‘Oh sh**, Wyclef doin’ it’.
JC: You’ve been in the rap game for longer than some of the new generation rappers have even been alive, so who was your biggest inspiration during your early career and who/what inspires you now?
WJ: Man, I was comin up, like The Fugees used to open up for Biggie, you know, I remember like Tupac in the dressing room, we did shows together. For hip-hop, I loved what Dr. Dre and them was doing like NWA. Cause you know for me, coming from this society we was coming from, we didn’t just want to create music we wanted to create a movement. And watching some of those guys made us feel like we could have did that.
JC: What would you say your relationship with Young Thug is like? I know he has talked a lot about you being a big inspiration for him and he has that song ‘Wyclef Jean’.
WJ: Yeah, I mean that’s my nephew, it’s all good. It’s just a beautiful one, it’s love, it’s real. I tell you, respect is respect, the real knows the real. It don’t matter the age if it’s real. Think about it, we all know who Bob Marley is, you know what I’m saying? We all know who Jimi Hendrix is. So, if you do good music it’s always going to inspire a generation to keep doing good music.
JC: What can we expect from The Carnival Tour?
WJ: Man, if you’ve never been to a Wyclef concert man, what can I tell you? You’ve gotta put everyone’s DNA together: Thugger’s DNA, Future’s DNA, Fugees together, Kendrick Lamar, a bit of Sean Paul, put all of that DNA together. So, just bring two outfits with you. We call it ‘The Carnival’ because we take you on that ride. We start in 1997 and we finish in 2018. Y’all know I’m Haitian, so I have heavy Caribbean blood. I love to make people dance, party, and have a good time.
JC: Have the shows so far on the tour been really fun and crazy?
WJ: The shows have been crazy, like if you go on my instagram @wyclefjean, you can get a flavor of what it looks like, what it feels like, and the energy of the crowd. It feels really good to be back on tour.
JC: What’s been your favorite city so far?
WJ: We kicked off in Jersey and Jersey is where I’m from, so it’s either like Jersey be claiming me and Brooklyn be claiming me. It was crazy to set it off at home, it felt good, like I got to see a lot of friends. Not often do people get to go back home and really still be on top. I’m coming back home and it’s like, if you went to high school with me you know who I am, if you went to college you know we used to be on the block together. Home felt like a homecoming.
JC: Alright, that’s all the questions I have for you today. For tickets, go to wyclef.com/events to see Wyclef Jean on March 1st at the Wilbur Theatre. You can find Carnival III on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify and listen to Inspired By… for free on all mixtape streaming platforms.
WJ: 100 percent. You already know it. See you soon!
You can find out more information about Wyclef Jean here including tour dates and news!