With a career spanning over two decades, Wyclef Jean has made a name for himself as a composer, musician, and record producer. In the mid-nineties, Wyclef was an integral part of the incredibly successful group The Fugees and was instrumental in creating their biggest record, The Score. He has also released 7 solo records, countless collaborations with other artists, and his highly anticipated 8th solo record, Carnival III, will be released in September of 2017.
At a very young age, he started playing music when his family moved from Haiti to Brooklyn. "My mom took a gun out of my hand and replaced it with a guitar," he recalled. Not just the guitar, Wyclef would go on to learn 15 different musical instruments and different musical styles, helping to shape his eclectic style found throughout his career.
While he was playing upright bass in a jazz band at age 17, Wyclef, who was a huge fan of hip-hop duo Eric B. and Rakim, saw an open casting for extras with his skill set in their music video. "I remember taking my upright bass and taking it on the train," Wyclef muses, "[and] going all the way to be an extra in a Rakim video." He got cast as the bass playing extra, and because the track, "Don't Sweat The Technique" featured a prominent walking bass line, Wyclef was featured heavily in the music video. In fact, he later met Rakim years later and told him the story, laughing that he might have gotten more shots in the video than the star!"
No one knew it at the time, but the young 17-year-old bass player in the background was destined to become one of the biggest music stars in the world, writing some of the biggest hits of the next decade. Wyclef himself credits this moment as the first time he felt he could make a career out of being in the music business.
Listen to the full interview with Wyclef Jean on Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 31
Check out the video below to see young Wyclef Jean's music video debut in Eric B. and Rakim's "Don't Sweat The Technique."