On Dec. 1, the rapper, Fugee member and activist Wyclef Jean plans to give a free concert in Haiti, his first there since 1997
Why did you start your charity, the Yéle Haiti Foundation?
Yéle is a word I created, a cry for freedom. I started it when I went back to Haiti with the Fugees in 1997. Smelling the air when I got off that plane, it felt like home. What if I never left and experienced the American dream?
What's been the toughest part of working in Haiti?
To prove myself to the people, to say, Look, I don't work for the FBI, I don't work for the CIA. I'm a musician who left Haiti when I was 10 years old. I didn't come to judge you.
Are you an American citizen?
I'm a U.S. resident. I have a Haitian passport. Wyclef Jean could never be Wyclef Jean without America. Once somebody goes to America, there's no such thing as coming back to Haiti, you know?
What's the status of the Fugees?
Sometimes I feel like Paul McCartney and the Beatles are they getting back together? The Fugees never broke up. Everyone was doing solo projects. When we came back to do more music, we did Dave Chappelle's Block Party, we did BET, put out one record called Take It Easy. My thing is if the Fugees want to do another record, let's go ahead and do it let's not keep talking about it.
Does your mom go to your concerts?
Once in a while, along with my wife and daughter Angelina Jean, 18 months. I was performing in Toronto and I said, "This is for Angelina," and they said, "Jolie?" And I said, "No, my daughter."
Why did you cut your dreads?
When you want a fresh start, you cut off all your hair, and whatever bag-gage you have, you can start over.