30 min­utes with ... Wy­clef Jean

The ex-fugee talks about his ‘pocket full of cheese’ and in­spir­ing Bey­oncé – all while jog­ging

The Guardian - G2 - - Lost in showbiz - By Peter Robin­son

Hello Wy­clef! Where are you and what’s hap­pen­ing? Right now I’m in Jer­sey (1). Af­ter this in­ter­view I’ll hit the track and do a nice run with my daugh­ter and wife. In high school, my wife was a track star so she keeps me for­ever slim jim!

Your al­bum The Car­ni­val came out in 1997 and Car­ni­val Vol II ap­peared in 2007. Now here we are with The Car­ni­val Vol III in 2017. Will there be another in 10 years?

Yeah, you al­ready know it! Every 10, you get a Car­ni­val!

Can the Guardian run an exclusive about your sum­mer 2027 re­lease?

Of course! You can an­nounce it now: The Re­turn of the Per­fect Gentle­man. That’s the work­ing ti­tle.

We’re 16 years on from Per­fect Gentle­man. What do you imag­ine Max­ine is do­ing now? (2)

Ac­tu­ally, that song was based on a real per­son. I’d say mu­sic res­onates, no mat­ter the year, if you base your sto­ries on real events. The last time I spoke to Max­ine was about four years ago – she went on to get into medicine.

So Max­ine ul­ti­mately paid her tu­ition? I think she’s do­ing al­ter­na­tive medicine now. Some of it’s in the cannabis in­dus­try, epilepsy for kids … some of it’s also in the idea of dif­fer­ent herbs for heal­ing. Some­times you have a headache and you don’t need the as­pirin be­cause there are so many al­ter­na­tives you can take. I’m re­ally into that.

On your new al­bum, Turn Me Good is about get­ting to Zion and hav­ing sex. What else hap­pens af­ter death?

That was in­spired by Sex­ual Heal­ing by Mar­vin Gaye. I wanted to cre­ate some­thing more metaphor­i­cal: ask­ing what are you go­ing to do when you get to that place of glory? It’s all about what you think the metaphor should mean. Some peo­ple would make love, oth­ers might change the world.

I sup­pose hav­ing sex and chang­ing the world aren’t mu­tu­ally exclusive.

I be­lieve in do­ing both!

On another song, Shotta Boys, there’s the line: “Every time they see me they ask two ques­tions: Wy­clef Jean, when’s the next Fugee al­bum, when’s Shot­tas Part 2?” (3) How many times a day do you get asked those ques­tions? I get asked them re­li­giously, like they’re part of a re­li­gion! It’s all good, though, I have no prob­lem an­swer­ing them.

What else have you been do­ing in the eight years since your last al­bum? I’ve been work­ing on a new cod­ing so­lu­tion for au­dio.

Some­thing like MP3 or WAV?

Yes. The work­ing ti­tle is Stems. I’m prob­a­bly a year and a half away. I want to en­hance how we hear mu­sic passed through to a stereo. As an au­dio en­gi­neer, that’s what I’m ex­cited about.

You worked with Destiny’s Child early on. I’m sure you get asked this all the time but what was Latavia like?

It was def­i­nitely in­cred­i­ble! I al­ways knew Bey­oncé would be great be­cause when Destiny’s Child were open­ing for me on tour, every time they got off stage she would go get changed then stand at the side of the stage and watch my show like a hawk. A lot of artists per­form, get changed and then leave. I knew this one was gonna be danger­ous: I thought, she’s not just in­ter­ested in mu­sic, she wants to be a megas­tar. She stud­ied the en­tire game.

When The Rock told you it didn’t mat­ter (4) that you had a pocket full of cheese and a gar­den full of trees, the cheese was fig­u­ra­tive, right?

Cheese is money in that sense.

Do you still have a pocket full of cheese and a gar­den full of trees? Def­i­nitely. You know! Man – I do have a gar­den full of trees.

When’s the next Fugees al­bum and when’s Shot­tas Part 2?

When the Fugees are ready, I’ll al­ways be ready. As for Shot­tas Part 2, I ain’t part of that but if they need me, I’d be hon­oured. But the most im­por­tant thing about this in­ter­view is that through it all, I’ve been jog­ging.

What?

Yes! If this was Face­time you’d see the fun­ni­est shit. I’m in the hot sun, I’m sweat­ing, but you haven’t heard me breathe hard once yet! (5) Thank you so much! And let all my fans in Eng­land know I’m look­ing for­ward to com­ing soon!

Car­ni­val Vol. III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee is out to­day

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