Seeing Wyclef live will turn any fan into a fanatic. I have seen him break out into a tightrope walk on a wooden fence while rapping. I’ve seen him grab and play every instrument on the stage, do a backflip in the middle of a guitar solo, and play the guitar with his tongue. I’ve even heard him freestyle in five different languages.
So, when I heard he was coming onto my morning show as a guest late in ’07, I was genuinely excited. Clef arrived at the studio with just one other person. He shook hands and individually introduced himself to everyone in the room. As my commercial break ended, I turned on the mics and started to introduce the former member of the Fugees, but he had other ideas. He began freestyling over the background music I was playing:
“Wyclef is in the buildin’, early in the morning, drinkin Starbucks, freestyle king out of Brooklyn, I’m good lookin’, when it comes to freestyle, crowds get shooken…good morning, America!!” This was not going to be an ordinary interview.
He talked about his early childhood in Haiti (“Fugees” is short for “Refugees”) and his days of performing music on the streets of Brooklyn. We asked his opinion of the current state of hip-hop music:
“When I hear my nephews and nieces talking about Soulja Boy, I don’t quite get it, but then again my uncle didn’t get it when I was a little kid doin’ ‘the Humpty Dance.’”
Of course, we had to ask whether or not the Fugees would ever reunite, but we never anticipated that Wyclef would be so honest:
“Lauryn Hill is the best female artist I’ve ever worked with, but she is bipolar…. For me, her health is more important…. The people around her need to tell her the truth…. So, if she gets her health together, only then can something happen.”
The man who is known as “the preacher’s son” preached on for several more minutes before I asked him, “Will you freestyle for San Diego?”
“Give me a beat… They say I changed, ever since I got the wealth…I ain’t changed, it’s just hard battling myself, it’s kind of hard when you’re livin’ in the land of the lost, ever since an intern I always wanted to be boss…. Matrix entertainment television, what’s your vision for the next generation — less schools, more prisons, overpopulated the kids can’t write or read, but they study hip-hop alphabets: Jay-Z, B.I.G.”
He flowed so long, the beat that I was playing ran out. So, what did he do? He told me to start it again! He continued in Spanish. Then Japanese, then German, then French. I think I can safely say that everyone in the room had chills. After more than seven minutes, his flow came to an end. He got the only in-studio standing ovation I’ve ever seen in radio.
Station: 93.3 FM