Wyclef Jean: Tiny Desk Concert The hip-hop statesman walked through our doors greeting and charming anyone within arm's reach. Once in front of an audience, he was in attack mode, including a unique rendition of his signature hit.

Tiny Desk

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean doesn't get his just due. It was only after The Fugees had the world in their collective palms, and then disbanded, when we got to know his unadulterated abilities as a musician — his first solo album The Carnival was a project equal to (if not greater than) his greatest successes with The Fugees. From there, his focus shifted to discovering and producing stars, stretching all genres in his solo mission, and philanthropic work for his homeland of Haiti.

A seasoned pro, he walked through our doors greeting and charming anyone within arm's reach. Once in front of an audience, he was in attack mode, playing every instrument in sight. Clef doled out stories ranging from his upbringing and rise with The Fugees to intimate musical encounters with Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child. The mentions were properly placed and added substance to the performance, but to me, he pulled what I'd call a "subtle stunt." Hip-hop is and has always been about youth and freshness, so most elder statesmen of rap aren't celebrated to the degree of their peers in rock 'n' roll and country music. Every now and again it's necessary to inform the younger generation, who would otherwise never know these epic moments ever happened.

Over the past few years, we've seen a resurgence of sorts for Wyclef. Young Thug noted a heavy influence, naming a song after him and then tag-teaming on a different track on last year's Jeffery; one of the biggest songs of 2017, DJ Khaled's "Wild Thoughts," prominently samples Wyclef's colossal collaboration with Carlos Santana on "Maria Maria." His career trajectory was recently documented on TV One's Unsung, and in September he dropped the third installment of The Carnival. He starts his set with two highlights from his latest record, and finishes with a climactic rendition of his signature hit like you've never seen or heard.

Set List

  • "Borrowed Time"
  • "Turn Me Good"
  • "Gone Till November"

Musicians

Wyclef Jean (guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals); Jazzy Amra (vocals); Patrick Andriantsialonina (bass); Manny Laine (drums)

Credits

Producers: Bobby Carter, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Alyse Young, Nicholas Garbaty; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Christina Ascani/NPR

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Jacob Collier plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 16, 2019. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jacob Collier

As the NPR staff gathered to watch his performance, Jacob Collier sprinted full bore down the hallway for his set, hardly able to contain his creative energy or enthusiasm.

Priests performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 7, 2019. Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Priests

The punk-infused art band from Washington, D.C. brings a kinder, gentler and sparer version of the group's music to the Tiny Desk.

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles perform at Tiny Desk on June 11. Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Erin Rae

Every time she performs live, Erin Rae transforms her quiet storms into different hues of squalling introspection.

Sting and Shaggy perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2018. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Sting And Shaggy

The two musical legends brought plenty of joy to the Tiny Desk, with an unexpected collaboration that works surprisingly well.

Miya Folick plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2019. Jenna Sterner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jenna Sterner/NPR

Miya Folick

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction.

Gemma Doherty (left) and Morgan MacIntyre performing as Saint Sister during their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington, D.C. Michael Zamora/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Zamora/NPR

Saint Sister

The group from Ireland makes music that mixes the organic with the electronic, starting with a large, 34-string lever harp.

Be More Chill plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 10, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Be More Chill

On Broadway, Be More Chill is a playful burst of frenetic energy and silly, stealthy sweetness. At the Tiny Desk, it holds onto that rowdy, generous spirit while stripping down the arrangements.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 4, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Tasha Cobbs Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today. Her set at the Tiny Desk moved many at the NPR offices to tears.

Imogen Heap plays a Tiny Desk Conert on May 4, 2019 (Colin Marshall/NPR). Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap takes us through her many musical talents, from her Frou Frou musical partner, Guy Sigsworth — and their first new song in 17 years — to an extraordinary performance with musical gloves.

Idles plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 13, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

IDLES

The British madmen brought fury, cathartic rage and deep thoughts to the Tiny Desk for one of the loudest, most raucous performances in memory.

Back To Top