Wyclef Jeans Shares Musical Inspirations

Musician, producer and aspiring politician Wyclef Jean says that part of the success of his band, the Fugees was thanks to his in-depth knowledge of all types of music. For Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, Wyclef shares the songs that have influenced and inspired his creativity.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we mentioned in her book, Amy Wilentz describes the efforts of a number of celebrities working in Haiti. Some she criticizes, some she complements. One of the figures she mentions is the singer-songwriter and producer Wyclef Jean. We're not going to get into the substance of her critic of his efforts, but we talked with him last year and he told us about his failed run at the Haitian presidency.

WYCLEF JEAN: I've seen regimes tear the country apart, kids die, just on the ego of a man saying no, I've got to be president. I didn't run to be president, I ran on the urgency of wanting to help the youth.

MARTIN: We also got to talk about some of the music that inspires him. That's our regular feature we call In Your Ear. And here are some of the tracks that move Wyclef Jean.

JEAN: What's up, y'all. This is Wyclef Jean. I'm in the house and I'm listening to a few things right now. I'm listening to Miles Davis, "Bitches Brew."

(SOUNDBITE OF ALBUM, "BITCHES BREW")

MILES DAVIS: (Instrumental)

JEAN: You've heard that? It's so incredible. You should definitely check it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALBUM, "BITCHES BREW")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TYRONE")

ERYKAH BADU: (Singing) See every time you come around you got to bring Jim, James, Paul and Tyrone.

(APPLAUSE)

JEAN: Erykah Badu, "Tyrone." I still can't get over that song, (Singing) call Tyrone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TYRONE")

BADU: (Singing) But you don't know how to act, so matter fact I think you better call Tyrone. Call him. And tell him come on.

JEAN: And the third thing I'm listening to, that definitely, you know, gets me in the mood and in the vibe. You know, is because I need a lot more energy before I get on stage when I'm getting pumped up, I listen to Wu-Tang Clan. "Protect Ya Neck," you know?

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PROTECT YA NECK")

WU-TANG CLAN: (Rapping) Here comes my Shaolin style. True B-A-ba-B-Y-U. To my crew with the soo. Yeah., Yeah. Come on, baby baby. Come on, baby baby. Come on, baby baby. Come on. Watch your step, here? You best protect your neck.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLIN'")

ALICIA KEYS: (Singing) I keep on fallin' in and out of love with you.

JEAN: And I'm still hooked on Alicia Keys' "Fallin'".

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLIN'")

KEYS: (Singing) Sometimes I love ya. Sometimes you make me blue. Sometimes I feel good. At times I feel used.

JEAN: I mean the piano part, I just sit there and constantly trying to...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLIN'")

KEYS: (Singing) Makes me so confused. I keep on fallin' in and out...

MARTIN: That was musician Wyclef Jean telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear his previous interview with us or other past interviews, just go to our website, NPR.org, click on the Programs tab and then, TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLIN'")

KEYS: (Singing) ...the way that I love you. Oh, oh, I...

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. And remember to tell us more, please go to NPR.org and find us under the Programs tab. You can find our podcast there. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The handle is @TELL ME MORENPR. I'm Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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