In terms of status in hip-hop, you don’t get much more lauded than Wyclef Jean, one-third of the iconic group Fugees and a highly successful solo artist. Jean is revered for his songwriting ability and his knack for fusing various styles that include R&B, soul and reggae. An inspiration to many, it’s only fitting that Jean’s thoughts on all things hip-hop are coveted, as he’s done it all, and rubs shoulders with the very best in the game.
During a 2016 interview with Pigeons & Planes, Jean captivated fans when he discussed his collaboration with Young Thug, ‘I Swear’. He showered heaps of praise on the Georgia rapper and went as far as to liken him to the legendary pioneer of gangsta rap, Tupac.
Jean said: “He reminded me of a modern Tupac, in a sense—in a revolutionary sense. I mean that by, alright, you might see a thug, but his connection to history seemed similar to what Pac understood, of like, ‘This is who the Black Panthers are. Read this book, read that book.’ This kid understands. I sent him the Ghosts of Cité Soleil documentary. He must have seen it like 10, 15 times. He is like a sponge when it comes to history. He likes to absorb a lot of information, and actually wants to learn.”‘
This praise must have come as a welcome surprise for Young Thung, who has constantly trumpeted Wyclef Jean throughout his career, citing him as a considerable influence. Reflecting the impact that Jean had on his artistic development, in 2017 Thug released the single ‘Wyclef Jean’, as a tribute to the Fugees man.
Interestingly, though, some criticised Jean’s comments, who argued that the similarities between Thug and Tupac are minimal, to say the least. Many pointed to the fact that Young Thug is not a revolutionary, and that in many ways, neither was Tupac. Whilst Thug has committed some acts of philanthropy over the years, including pledging his support to the #fightpovertyagain campaign, labelling him a revolutionary seems like a bit of a stretch, even after his image clean up.
We can understand where Jean is coming from in the sense that Thug’s not afraid to make his thoughts heard loud and clear. His famous comment, “you can be a gangsta in a dress”, is indicative of this. However, he hasn’t exactly set the world ablaze with what he talks about in his music.
We’ll leave you to make your mind up, but I suggest that Wyclef Jean might have been wide of the mark this time.
Listen to ‘I Swear’ below.