Wyclef Explains Leaving Columbia Records, His Dance Music Roots & Hip-Hop Activism

Upon walking into the crowded hotel room, I could already hear his soulful guitar riffs. Wyclef Jean was playing an acoustic version of his latest single “Divine Sorrow” in front of a camera. It was the first time I had seen him play the EDM song live. In my mind, I was immediately overwhelmed with a flash medley of all of his classic records from as far back as I could remember. In reality, he was casually sitting in front of me playing the fresh cordson his wood-grained guitar. He moved on to play his Carnival classic “Gone Til November” and freestyled a new verse off the top of his head.  It was then I realized that he would never lose his touch, even if he gave politics another try.

The same force that tattooed The Fuguees into hip-hop is preparing to unleash a new body of work this year in a whole new way. After releasing seven albums through Columbia Records, Wyclef is jumping back into the game with Heads Music/PRMD Records, the label responsible for Avicii’s international success, backing his efforts. Wyclef let us in on why he chose to leave the label that helped launch his solo career.

“Be Clear. Wyclef didn’t get dropped from Columbia. Wyclef had to leave Columbia because a corporation like that could not support a presidential candidate,” said Wyclef, who attempted to run for president of his home country of Haiti in 2010.

After Haiti rejected his bid, he wanted to go back to his true calling making music, but wanted to do it differently. Since beginning his new endeavors with Heads Music/PRMD Records, Wyclef has been able to expand his network and collaborate with artists from all genres including EDM. His eighth solo album Clefication is set to be an eclectic mix of all kinds of music. Wyclef got to work with the famed EDM producers Avicii and Afrojack as well as Miami beatmaker DJ Khaled and singer Emily Sande.

“Shout out Emily Sandé. We are doing a joint together. I think it’s going to be historical. There’s DJ Khaled. So, Me and Khaled.. What’s gonna happen man? Clef shows up with a guitar. Khaled with the crazy beats. I’m looking forward to that. It’s gonna be incredible.”

Before you say that the Grammy Award-winning singer is trying to cash-in on the EDM wave, search the Internet for throwback Clef tracks like “The Stripper Song” or his first single years before The Fugees called “Out of the Jungle.” Wyclef has been doing house music since Avicii was in diapers. So when he and the “Levels” producer hit the studio, the genres they’ve become famous for have nothing to do with their creative process.

“When me and Tim aka Avicii is in the studio, to the public it looks like an EDM producer and a hip-hop producer. But if you if you get a sneak preview of us in the studio, you’re gonna be like ‘Did Tim just Google Ekk-A-Mouse?’ Then he [Avicii] says ‘Yo this part we gotta do it Ekk-A-Mouse vibe.’ Then, he googled Ray Charles. These are the chords that I’m thinking about. So we are just two musicians and producers in the studio.”

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