Wyclef Jean
Musician / Singer / Songwriter

Celebrity Do-Good Culture

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Celebrities don't have to do charity work.

Wyclef Jean

Lead Fugees rapper and sometime guitarist Wyclef Jean was the first member of his group to embark on a solo career, and he proved even more ambitious and eclectic on his own. As the Fugees hung in limbo, Wyclef also became hip-hop's unofficial multicultural conscience; a seemingly omnipresent activist, he assembled or participated in numerous high-profile charity benefit shows for a variety of causes, including aid for his native Haiti.

The utopian one-world sensibility that fueled Wyclef's political consciousness also informed his recordings, which fused hip-hop with as many different styles of music as he could get his hands on (though, given his Caribbean roots, reggae was a particular favorite). In addition to his niche as hip-hop's foremost global citizen, Clef was also a noted producer and remixer who worked with an impressive array of pop, R&B, and hip-hop talent, including Whitney Houston, Santana, and Destiny's Child, among many others.


Question: What gap does celebrity charity work fill?

Wyclef Jean:  Well, the gap that the celebrity fills is that the celebrity can reach millions of people like that.  So the fact that they lend they voice or they name to Africa, it makes millions of people that wouldn’t even care about Africa look towards what’s going on in Africa.

Question: Is there a distinction between effective and ineffective celebrity charity?

Wyclef Jean:  Well, I think, you know, there’s -- I think a celebrity, period, doing any form of charity is a great thing because a celebrity don’t really have to do anything, as much as you wanna think they do, they’re celebrities.  So they could actually just chill and don’t do nothing, but the thing is -- but then there’s those celebrities that don’t only lend they name, they act on it.  And of course the bar is rose so high for these celebrities.  People like Angelina Jolie, she been to Haiti with me, Brad Pitt.  I mean, look what Brad’s doing at New Orleans, you know what I’m saying, real initiatives; George Clooney, like, going to these places, looking with their eyes and learning, and then bringing the information back to the American people.  I think that’s where the future is heading.