culture

Wyclef Jean Reminisces About His Surprising First Job in the '80s and His Collabs With Avicii

'Still to this day I remember. It's vivid. It changed me. You got to make sure you're working hard.'

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Sarah Jacobs/ONE37pm

BAH profile
September 4, 2018

Before Wyclef Jean formed legendary hip-hop trio The Fugees, won three Grammys and went down in history with one of the top-selling songs ever for his "Hips Don't Lie" collaboration with Shakira, he had a first job just like anybody else.

 

Wyclef visited ONE37pm's Live From the Bar Cart podcast and revealed his humble beginnings as a worker in a Korean beauty salon, where he first learned to hustle. 

 

"I'll give you the real story," Wyclef, 48, said at the 28:08 mark in the podcast. "I was hustling in front of a Korean store [in New Jersey]. I remember a dude came out and said, 'What are you doing here? Come in here.' I came in and he gave me a job, man. ... Still to this day I remember. It's vivid. It changed me. You got to make sure you're working hard. I used to sell Precise perm, Revlon, there's synthetic hair, there's human hair. Now anyone who listens to this, dawg, is gonna be like, 'This dude really worked in a beauty salon store.' All the pretty ladies know that if you come in there, Wyclef is gonna sell you on the human hair because if I can make my commission on the human hair that's making more money than synthetic hair, you dig what I'm saying?"

 

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Wyclef also told us what he learned from his mentors and music stalwarts Clive Davis and Quincy Jones, as well as what it was like collaborating with Shakira (SHAKIRA), Santana and the late Avicii. 

 

Avicii, Santana and Wyclef memorably teamed up to create the FIFA World Cup anthem four years ago in Sweden. Watch the anthem's music video below.  

 

"I got the chance to work with Avicii and Ash [Pournouri], Avicii's manager," Wyclef recalled at the 14:45 mark of the podcast. "I was very excited about what Tim [Avicii's birth name] was doing. I call him by his real name. Man, one day I hear this acoustic guitar against what you would consider EDM—back in the day it would be called house music because every generation it changes. I was like, 'Yo, who the fuck is fusing this bluegrass thing?' So we got together and our synergy clicked automatically. ... Of course, Santana, who we had great history with [having written and produced 'Maria, Maria' from Santana's Grammy-winning album SupernaturalI], came in and blessed us once again with incredible guitars. ... That kind of music reaches a billion people. And that kind of music moves so many people. It was an anthem. It was surreal. It made us put much more into the music because we knew that every time a World Cup comes back that even though we're not in it, these songs will always play."

Wyclef and Avicii also collaborated on the beautiful song "Divine Sorrow." 

Be sure to check out the rest of the podcast to hear Wyclef talk about how The Fugees became a voice for immigrants finding their place in America, how his partnership with Fiverr is helping young undiscovered artists and how his next album is going to be a surprise country album.