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Wyclef Jean

Pop Musician / Political Figure

Born: 17 October 1972
Birthplace: Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti
Best known as: The hip-hop star who tried to run for president of Haiti

Name at birth: Nel Ust Wycliffe Jean

Wyclef Jean is the rapper and former member of the Fugees who ran for president of Haiti in 2010. Wyclef Jean was born in Haiti and lived there until age 9, when he moved with his family to the United States -- first to Brooklyn, and later New Jersey. Wyclef Jean learned to play the guitar and rap as a teen, and with his cousin Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill, he formed the group the Fugees early in the 1990s. They became known for their political lyrics and unusual mix of hip-hop, pop and reggae -- what RollingStone.com later called "postcolonial discourse and a gumbo of Afrocentric rhythms." The Fugees' first album, Blunted on Reality, was released in 1994; their second album, The Score (1996), included a hip-hop cover of the Roberta Flack tune "Killing Me Softly (With His Song)" and went to #1 on the Billboard music charts. The Fugees disbanded the next year, and Wyclef Jean went on to a solo career, releasing albums including The Carnival (1997) and The Preacher's Son (2003). He also worked as a music producer with Destiny's Child and Carlos Santana, among others. Perhaps most notably he produced (and sang on) Shakira's megahit 2006 single "Hips Don't Lie," a reworking of Jean's own 2004 song "Dance Like This." In 2005 he founded Yéle Haiti, a charitable group dedicated to helping Haiti. After a 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people and thrust the country into chaos, Wyclef Jean announced he would try to run for president of Haiti in the elections of November 2010. However, election officials disqualified him from running; Haiti's electoral law states that any candidate must have resided in the country for five consecutive years.

Extra credit: Wyclef Jean is often called simply "Clef"... The name Fugees was short for "refugees"... His birthplace, Croix-des-Bouquets, is just a few miles east of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince... Wyclef Jean's father, Gesner Jean, was a Nazarene priest... Wyclef Jean married the fashion designer Marie Claudinette in 1994. They adopted a daughter, Angelina, in 2005... Wyclef Jean's uncle, Raymond Alcide Joseph, became the Haitian ambassador to the United States in 2005.

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