WYCLEF JEAN

(1969 – )

 

Wyclef Jean is a Haitian musician who ascended to stardom in the 1990s as a member of the remarkably successful hip-hop trio the Fugees. The music that Jean has written, performed, and produced — both as the lead member of the Fugees and as a solo artist — have established him as a significant force in popular music for over the past two decades.

Jean was born on October 17, 1969, in the small town of Croix-des-Bouquets, just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At the age of nine, he and his younger brother joined their parents and other siblings in Brooklyn, New York. During his teenage years, the family moved to Newark, New Jersey. In the late 1980s, Jean joined friends Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and Lauryn Hill to form a rap group. The trio signed with Columbia Records in 1993 as the Fugees and released their debut album, Blunted on Reality, the following year. It was their sophomore album released in 1996, The Score, that catapulted the Fugees to international success. An eclectic masterpiece that defied the sound of the time, the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Chart and garnered two Grammy Awards. Jean famously went on stage to accept the Grammy for Best Rap Album draped in a Haitian flag, which inspired tremendous pride among the Haitian Diaspora.

The Fugees continued recording together, but they also began working on solo projects. Jean emerged as a major solo artist with his 1997 debut release The Carnival, which received rave reviews from critics and was a platinum-selling album. As a solo artist, Jean has thus far released six albums that have sold nearly nine million copies worldwide. In addition to producing and releasing his own music, Jean is also an illustrious producer who has worked with an impressive array of musicians, including Celia Cruz, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Santana, Destiny’s Child, Lil Wayne, and Shakira.