Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Croix-des-Bouquets , Haiti, Jean moved to Brooklyn when he was nine, then to New Jersey, where he began playing the guitar and studying jazz in high school. In 1987, Jean, his cousin Prakazrel Michel (Pras) and his classmate, Lauryn Hill, formed a group called the Tranzlator Crew before becoming The Fugees. Wyclef worked as a cabdriver.
The Fugees signed to Ruffhouse Records and released their debut, Blunted on Reality , but the album was panned and sold poorly. Their eclectic follow-up, The Score, however, sold over 17 million copies worldwide and turned the trio into international superstars. Jean soon announced plans to begin a solo career with 1997's Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival Featuring the Refugee All-Stars (more typically called simply The Carnival). The album's guests included Hill and Pras along with Jean's siblings, the I Threes (back-up vocals for Bob Marley), Neville Brothers and Celia Cruz. The album was a major hit, as were two singles: "We Trying to Stay Alive" (adapted from The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive") and "Gone Til November" (recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra).
Jean went on to work with artists including Santana, Tevin Campbell, Cypress Hill, Bounty Killer, Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child, Sublime, Simply Red, Mya, Sinéad O'Connor, Kimberly Scott , Mick Jagger, Canibus, The Black Eyed Peas and Eric Benét. The Fugees remained in limbo during this time, with the follow-up to The Score being continually postponed as all three members cultivated solo careers. Jean's second solo album was , recorded with guests Youssou N'Dour, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Rogers, The Rock and Mary J. Blige. The critical reception was mixed, with many calling the album scattershot and too far-ranging to be cohesive.
Jean's third album, Masquerade , was released in 2002 and sold well, though critics frequently panned it.
His fourth album was The Preacher's Son, an album that Wyclef considered a continuation of his first album, Carnival.
In 2004, he released his fifth album, entitled Sak Pasé Presents: Welcome to Haiti (Creole 101) (released in the United States by Koch Records). A freewheeling album that is something of a return to his Caribbean roots, most of the songs on the album are in his native language of Haitian Creole or Kreyòl.
In 2005, Jean earned a Golden Globe for his track entitled "Million Voices" featured on the soundtrack to the film Hotel Rwanda.
- 1997 Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival Featuring the Refugee All-Stars
- 2002 Masquerade (album)
- 2003 The Preacher's Son
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