By David Downs
Just got off the phone with Wyclef Jean, you know, the dude from the Fugees, 1997's The Carnival and December 2007's the Carnival II.
The 35-year-old Haitian superstar brings a Mardi Gras, Carnival vibe to USF's Gym tonight at 7 p.m., and the coolest bit: Clef tapped USF film student Alexandra Platt to shoot another viral video for "If I Was President" (one version on YouTube is above.)
(Click on 'More' for more.)
Clef says he asked Platt for a next-day treatment of the assassination anthem and she came back with a concept he liked, so now a USF film crew will shoot the vid. Other than that, Clef's embarked on a year of international touring to support the Carnival II (which is doing OK, review-wise).
Jean says the kids are into the new album, but he wants to rope in his older fans with the new video, and the next couple of singles. (Which is good, because it feels like Wyclef peaked ten years ago with the triple-platinum Carnival and #1 hit "Gone till November". He's had some notable moments since then, but his role in Shakira's torturous smash single 'Hips Don't Lie' doesn't count.)
Which isn't to say Wyclef doesn't make news. He's getting good reviews for The Carnival II live show, except for about a Super Bowl concert appearance last week where he reportedly banned fat girls from sharing his stage. Plus, his name pops up in relation to a vague steroids story, a run-of the mill sample lawsuit, and his Obama support.
Last week, 'Clef reportedly banned girls "over 200 pounds" from the stage, prompting a next-day, in-concert clarification from Jean, where he explained he has nothing against fatties. He loves all sizes. (Us, too; especially on these cold nights.)
'Clef's name also turned up in January in a New York newspaper story about a doctor who dealt in steroids and Human Growth Hormone. Jean has no comment on the ongoing investigation, because he doesn't want to get caught up the "bullcrap." He did say he wouldn't watch pro sports if doping became legal.
"It's cheating. Everything should be what I call, 'fair'."
Like other celebs, Clef has recorded a song with for democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, but the Haitian national who cannot vote in U.S. elections said a Hillary Clinton administration would still be OK.
"Obama has really, really, really brought a new life to U.S. politics," says Jean.
"If Hillary does win, she'll do a much better job than George W. Bush. One thing you can say about Hillary, she cares."
Wyclef has some final words for fans coming to the show.
"Look at my MySpace and YouTube just to see what's been going on. By the time I get to your city, you'll be ready for it. When we say 'the Carnival is in your city,' we're not just saying that. We're talking about the Caribbean, boy. I tell everybody, dress bright, bring two outfits. Bring the one you're going to wear, plus another outfit, bring flags, stuff to wave around and masks. You're coming to the Carnival so be festive and ready to channel that Mardis Gras spirit.
Dour, black-clad San Francisco -- you have been warned.