Six years ago, hip hop icon Wyclef Jean released a soulful tune called “President,” where he fantasized about what it would be like to lead a country. That fantasy may come closer to reality when the Haitian-American recording artist announces exclusively on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that he intends to run for president of Haiti. Jean, who had been an outspoken proponent of Haiti through his Yele Foundation, told CNN Tuesday that he plans to make the major announcement on King’s show Thursday night.
Jean, who was born in Haiti, shot to fame in the mid-1990s as a member of The Fugees, a U.S.-based hip-hop and reggae group. He performs now as a solo artist. Jean was one of the first celebrities to offer aid after January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. He told CNN late last month that he has filled out the necessary paperwork to make a run at the country’s highest office.
And in February, Jean said he has tried to promote Haitian issues in his music. “I’ve always promoted Haiti in my music, since my first album with the Fugees where we talked about what Haitians are going through and about human rights for people around the world,” Jean said. “This is how we came in the game, we never thought we were going to be music stars because the topics we talked about were not very popular in mainstream music.”
Jean said he was born in “born in a small village in Port-au-Prince.” He moved to Brooklyn, New York, when he was nine. “I had never been inside an airplane before — me and my brother looked out the window and saw nothing but a bunch of lights,” Jean said. “I told my brother, ‘Look, we’ve arrived, it’s the city of diamonds,’ because it was shining so much.”
Jean said he grew up in the housing projects in Brooklyn in “one of the roughest areas at the time.” He was able to grow from those humble beginnings to be a top recording star and now he says will try to help rebuilt his birthplace. The January 12 earthquake in Haiti killed more than 220,000 people, destroyed 60 percent of government infrastructure and left more than 180,000 homes uninhabitable.
While little is known about Jean’s political agenda, some of the lyrics from his song “President” may provide a sneak peek: “Instead of spending billions on the war. I can use that money, to feed the poor.”