International superstar and humanitarian Wyclef Jean has his hands full as of late. In the wake of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, the former Fugees member wasted no time in performing at telethons and raising money for the victims of his homeland through his Yéle Haiti organization. But even a man set on taking global issues head-on sets aside time to kick a rhyme for a different cause.
During a blistering cold snowstorm in New York City on Wednesday (Feb. 10), Wyclef kept the Canal Room smoking hot by performing his signature hits for “Live Sets,” a series of live online concerts sponsored by Sony’s new global brand message make.believe (pronounced “make dot believe”).
Wyclef and his band took the small audience on a cultured journey they wouldn’t forget. Besides those in attendance, a live stream provided fans the chance to watch the concert from the comforts of home. The Haitian MC consistently referred to viewers watching the stream so as not to upset those who couldn’t make the trip due to inclement weather.
Surprisingly, Wyclef opened the show by playing guitar riffs with his teeth. The small and intimate setting allowed him to interact with his audience in such a personal way that the stage became an extension of the dance floor. Women climbed up on the stage just to ask Wyclef to shower them with his half-empty Poland Spring water bottle.
To listeners’ excitement, Clef debuted a Runners production from his forthcoming self-titled album called “Seventeen.” He declared all the females to find their inner adolescent, to which they happily obliged. Mothers left their children in the audience to hop on stage and dance, acting like teens all over again.
The spirit of Haiti was an underlying theme throughout the show, with Haitian flags flying in the crowd. In honor of his native people, Wyclef performed “Hold On,” then switched the vibe by moving into a Carnival-inspired track. Fans jumped and moved, swinging whatever piece of loose clothing they could find over their heads.
Classic Fugees material was a highlight of the night as well. Wyclef, with the help of his South-African backup singer Zulu, performed “Fu-Gee-La” and “Ready or Not.” The singer-rapper even freestyled over Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” To close out the evening’s festivities, Wyclef, guitar in hand, plucked through a modern version of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Two more Sony make.believe “Live Sets” are anticipated for the spring.
–Bilal “Blogzworth” Morris