VIBE recently caught up with Wyclef Jean at the Timberland store in New York where he talked about his new mixtape Toussaint St. Jean, Chris Brown and even did a little freestyling
VIBE: So your mixtape Toussaint St. Jean just came out. Tell me about that.
Wyclef Jean: Yeah, it came in at number one on iTunes. The mixtape was just a test of where the real Wyclef fans [are], because it’s been a while since I rapped. I’ve been doing a lot of big records and you always have to remind hip-hop where you came from. The mixtape is on the hip-hop side. It’s really the first EP mixtape because all the songs are original songs. I did it as if I was doing an EP. The producers are myself, Jerry Wonder, Delivery Boy, DJ Drama, another producer called V12. I wrote all my stuff. It just felt good to do an EP like that before getting ready for the next Wyclef album.
It sounded like there was a political message in a few of the songs–you talk about nuclear bombs and President Obama in “The Emperor.” What were you trying to say? The whole vibe of the record is “from the hut to the projects to the mansion.” This is basically a new generation. Through the whole EP, the thing I’m saying is the real revolution is no longer with the arms, the revolution is the mind now. So versus ya’ll going around killing each other, if you all use your mind you’ll go farther. It’s like Bob Marley said, “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.” Ya dig?
We have Chris Brown on the cover–what do you think about that?
Look, when you look at the life of every individual, none of us are perfect. We all are born with faults. The thing about it is–I feel that what Chris Brown did, he’ll never repeat it again. At the same time, if it were my sister and she came to me looking like that, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Understand that there’s a balance. The balance is that our women should never be beat. Period. I really think that he learned his lesson. Sometimes in his interviews, you can still see the confusion. I still think that he’s a great performer and he made a mistake and let his anger get to him. I don’t see him doing it again.
Would you consider working with Chris Brown?
I’d work with Chris Brown, I’d work with Rihanna, I’d work with Lauryn Hill, I’d work with everybody. I’d work with him on the nuance of seeing the change.
So tell me about the collaboration with Timberland and Yéle Haiti.
Timberland is naturally into trees and they plant trees all over the world, so the idea is to create a boot line with Yéle Haiti and see that [for] every boot that’s sold, $2 goes back to into tree planting. That’s a movement to me. I wanted to make a real impact. My charity’s not a charity–I call it a movement. I’m the kid from the hut, so I’m not into the picture of the naked poster boy that you see and it says, “Feed him.” I’m like, how can we provide opportunities. I’m not saying give a million [dollars] and go into the hills of Haiti. But I’m telling you if you can plant trees, you can provide opportunities for people. For me, this is a natural vibe so make sure you go and pick up your Yéle Haiti Timberland Boots. —Adrien Field
Pick up Wyclef Yéle Haiti for Timberland Earthkeepers gear here.