Wyclef Jean is the kind of enigmatic artist you might see anywhere — even on the trading floors of Wall Street.
Jean joined Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday to ring the closing bell. The event, in honor of World AIDS Day, gave the Fugees frontman the platform to talk about the disease.
"Being from Haiti, the AIDS situation is something we've been fighting for years," Jean said. "I've done a lot of PSAs for Haiti and Africa trying to teach kids how to protect themselves."
Jean also talked up Yele Haiti, his newly launched nonprofit organization that focuses on building up Haiti through education, health and employment opportunities, a cause the artist has long held dear (see "Wyclef Jean Planning Benefit Concert In Haiti").
"For Haiti to move forward, it's going to take the diaspora in America that came from Haiti to go back, physically, to start to implement things," Jean said. "I don't challenge governments in what I do — putting in schools, hospitals, etc. We're just doing what people should be doing there.
"It's definitely hands-on," he added. "It's not easy [running] a foundation and trying to get money from people, but it's something I believe in strongly. I think it's something that's really going to help Haiti do what it's going to do in the next three or four years."
On the artistic front, Jean continues to branch out into film scoring. He recently penned "Million Voices" for the Don Cheadle film "Hotel Rwanda." The flick, due in theaters on December 22, chronicles the civil unrest in the African nation.
"The song that I did was inspired by the movie," Jean said. "I actually wrote the song around the choir of Rwandan kids who sing it."
Wyclef, who also scored the 1999 Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence film "Life," hopes to do more film work in the year to come and is even talking about taking drama classes.
"When I was 15 or 16, theater and music went hand in hand," said Jean. "[The music] took off first, but starting in January I'm going back to acting school and catch up on my roots. In the next three or four years, I want to do some things that leave a greater legacy than I have now."
As for the Fugees and their much-discussed reunion (see "Fugees To Reunite In The Studio Once Hill Finishes Solo LP"), Jean is a bit cryptic.
"All I can tell you is that we are all on great talking terms," he said. "Music for the Fugees is easy. It's never been that. If we can get all the other issues straightened out, which I am sure that we can, the future for the Fugees is a great one.
"No one has come to replace the Fugees," Jean added. "That would mean you have to come with another Wyclef, another Lauryn [Hill] and another Pras, but all in the same group. That's like a star falling from heaven. So whatever God puts together can't really be divided."