Lifestyle

Wyclef sings for all generations

  • Wyclef Jean performs on Saturday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

From 17 to 60 ... Wyclef Jean made good on his promise that everyone would have a good time, no matter their age.

The musician warmed up the congregation at the America’s Cup Village on Saturday with personal hits from the Fugees to Shakira, before inviting the women and children of the audience on stage in a bid to get even the stiffest spectator moving.

His efforts paid off — a tour through the crowd left fans grinning from ear to ear.

Wyclef said he was excited to play for a Bermuda audience again in his second performance on the island since the 2009 Music Festival.

“Bermuda is very music-orientated. They appreciate instruments,” said the musician who plays more than seven instruments including the piano, the drums and guitar.

A classic rendition of Killing Me Softly had everyone singing along.

“Versus producing Lauryn Hill, I’m producing you the crowd,” he said. “You get your own karaoke that night.

“The music that we do, somehow a 17-year-old could show up, a 60-year old could show up and it doesn’t matter they both want to have a good time.”

As promised, his set list ranged from “the era of cassettes and vinyls [to ] “the era of streaming” — from the Jackson Five to Major Lazer.

Ever evolving his sound, his song Hendrix speaks to “the trap generation”, while the latest EP J’Ouvert is for the millennials.

“We transform and we keep transforming for generations.

“There’s no more than four people on stage — we just sound like 10,000. We just bring the revival to the stage.”

He welcomed Caribbean culture’s surge into the mainstream.

“Production-wise it’s so innovative right now. America music is dictated by Caribbean music now.

“You hear more of the reggae, you can hear the calypso, you can hear the soca — all of this in pop culture. The fashion, the music, Caribbean — we it, baby.”

He said it should make the whole Caribbean proud.

“It’s not just me. I play one seed of an entire tree.”

The musician emigrated to the US from Haiti at 10. He lived in Brooklyn but never strayed from the sound system culture.

“I was into dub plates at 14 years old. Even when I got older I would still clash. That’s a Caribbean hobby. The fact that I’m so rooted inside of my culture is the reason why I can constantly keep reinventing myself over and over again,” he said.

A champion, too, of Bermudian talent — he has worked with singer Hannah Eggen, since she first joined him on stage seven years ago.

“Hannah is incredible. Her versatility is definitely incredible and I think in the future the world is going to hear a lot of her. she’s one of those go-getters. Every day she’s getting better. America’s a very competitive place, but she’s go that Bermuda grind in her.”

Celebrations aside, he said he is pushing two issues to the forefront, only fuelled by President Trump’s rule — objections he didn’t hide during Saturday’s show.

“There’s an issue called TPS where they would deport 50,000 Haitians back to Haiti,” he explained.

“It’s not good. We just had an earthquake; 250,000 people under the rubble. The country can’t take that kind of situation.

“We might say, why should we worry about it? That’s just the Haitians [but] every action brings a reaction.

“When you’re trying to get back into the states, you’re going to find yourself in a room being interrogated under microscopes just because you have certain kind of name or a certain kind of look.

“I believe in equal rights and justice for all. I don’t believe in the fear factor. I believe fear is instituted to keep us divided.”

“The other issue for me is rural areas,” he continued.

“Whether it’s Brooklyn, Jersey or Philly — all the politicians talk before they get elected saying they’re going to invest in the rural areas.

“Without investment, kids get lost. They find themselves in the streets. They find themselves inside of a gang culture.

He said the issue was not unique to the US.

“It’s not just an American issue. When people see me with my Haitian flag, [they think] it’s like Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre with his west coast flag, but it’s bigger than that.

“It’s a signal to say you can come from nothing and make something out of it.

“That’s really the whole idea of what I want the youth to do.

“In the hood, what do we have? We have human capital and we have our brain. We can take nothing and transform it into something.”

“I believe the only way to make it stronger is when private sector can work great with the community and in order to do that, government have got to strengthen the communities.”

“It’s not [about] I’m from the hood, I’m from the suburbs — because Steve Jobs ain’t from the hood, but he still was in that garage figuring it out,” he added.

“The Fugees were in the hood in a basement. He figured out a math, we figured out a math, but it takes both to progress.

“If you can put those two algorithms together, this is how we can go to the moon.

“This is how we can invent things. This is how we can be great.”