Wyclef Jean, the hot air balloons of Gatineau and the “voodoo drill”

Wyclef Jean, the hot air balloons of Gatineau and the “voodoo drill”

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The rapper, singer and musician had not come to Quebec since 2017, when he played at the International Hot Air Balloon in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. On September 4, he will be at the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, his only festival presence in Canada this summer. Two choices that may seem curious, but whose motivations go back to the artist’s childhood.

I always lived like a child in my head, like Michael Jackson. When I emigrated from Haiti to the United States, I was living in Coney Island, [un quartier de New York]he explains.

Coney Island is a non-stop fair with rides, roller coasters and balloons in the air. In celebration of 25 years of The Carnival [sorti en 1997]I told myself that [de jouer devant les montgolfières à Gatineau] would be a great thing to do.

A retrospective of almost 30 years of career

Wyclef Jean also affirms that he reserves a very festive moment for music lovers who come to see him in Gatineau. In addition to highlighting the 25th anniversary of his first solo album, The Carnivalhe also intends to make up for the quarter century of The Scorelegendary album of the Fugees which he launched in 1996 with Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel.

The trio was supposed to go on tour last year to mark the occasion, but the pandemic decided otherwise. In addition to his personal repertoire, Wyclef will therefore be able to draw on that of the Fugees – rich in successes such as Ready or Not Where Killing Me Softly with his Song – and in his repertoire as a producer for other artists.

I’ve created so much music as a producer. My fans weren’t with me in the studio when I created My Love is Your Love for Whitney Houston, so we’ll sing it together. They weren’t there when I created Hips Don’t Lie with Shakira, maria maria with Santana or 911 with Mary J. Blige, he says. This will be a complete list of everything I’ve created.

A return to Creole with See Dlo

Wyclef Jean is currently working on his 10th solo album, which will be titled 1997in a nod to the year of release of his first opus. See dloa first excerpt rapped mainly in Creole, was launched on May 18 on the occasion of the Haitian Flag Day.

“Voye dlo” means “to throw water”. When you want to defuse a situation, rather than escalate it, you can “voye dlo”. If you look at the situation in Ukraine right now, or the one in Haiti, or the madness that we see in Africa with the armed militias, you could say “voye dlo”he explains.

It’s a way of saying that things can’t stay the way they are and that new solutions have to be found. It was important for me to come back with a song in Creole.

the voodoo drilla subgenre of hip-hop inspired by Haitian voodoo

See dlo is based on a new rhythm that Wyclef Jean called the voodoo drill, a variation on drill – a subgenre of hip-hop related to trap music – inspired by Haitian voodoo. “Drill is a bit like gang music, which first tells stories. And in Haiti, we also tell stories, those of our African ancestors, through voodoo songs,” he explains.

the voodoo drill stands out for its deep bass, as well as a rather dark sound and lyrics. See dlo tackles themes like kidnapping, street gang violence and the public figure of Guy Philippe, the Haitian rebel leader who tried to overthrow the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

The story I tell in the “voodoo drill” is a reflection of me when I look at myself in the mirror. What I’m saying is I’m the kidnapper, I’m the gang member, I’m the Pope, I’m the pastor, I’m the little girl you just raped.

Wyclef Jean also wanted to include voodoo culture in his new proposal, regretting that this religion of African origin is often wrongly reduced to its most spectacular aspects. A lot of people take voodoo and try to make it a scary thing, but it’s crazy because when you go to church there’s a lot of stuff going on and nobody finds it scary. You drink wine, and you don’t find it sinister.

Political instability, the real scourge of Haiti

The music video of See dlo was filmed in Little Haiti, or La petite Haïti, a Miami neighborhood. The song also features two other artists of Haitian descent, Jessie Woo and Eddy François. Although American for a long time, Wyclef Jean remains very attached to Haiti and his hometown of Croix-des-Bouquets.

He returns there regularly, but always on the sly, because he knows the misery that reigns there and the crime that results from it. I go very discreetly, he explains. According to him, despite all the scourges that have befallen his country, such as the 2010 earthquake, the problem of political instability remains the worst enemy of the country’s reconstruction. He also deplores the coverage made by foreign media in Haiti only focuses on the city of Port-au-Prince, which is not representative of the whole country.

I always say that Haiti has the worst media coverage in the world. I say this because 99.9% of the problems reported by the media are related to Port-au-Prince, but we do not all identify with [à la capitale]explains Wyclef Jean.

It’s like Kingston in Jamaica. In the early 1980s, Kingston was crazy. So companies started investing in Montego Bay, building new airports, new hotels […] I think that if we develop certain parts of Haiti, for example in the north, there will be a completely different energy that can help Port-au-Prince.

Tickets for the concert that Wyclef Jean will give on September 4 are on sale on the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival website (New window).


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