Wyclef Jean has pulled out all the stops to help Haiti since an earthquake ravaged his native land. He visiting the devastated country almost immediately after the natural disaster occurred to deliver much-needed aid. He was one of the musicians at the forefront of George Clooney and MTV Networks’ “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon . And over the weekend he released a powerful clip for his tribute song to Haiti, titled “Hold On.”
“Someone with that passion, he really just wants to reach out and help as many people as possible,” Wayne Wilkins, who produced the song, told MTV News. “When you meet someone like that, it’s really no surprise to anyone that knows him [that he’d dedicate the song to his country].”
Wilkins explained that “Hold On,” which was also dedicated to fallen Haitian rapper Jimmy O, was recorded a year ago, when the two musicians were working on Jean’s forthcoming album.
Wilkins said the track came together during their first session. The producer — who has collaborated with Pink, Natasha Bedingfield and Leona Lewis — was initially nervous about working with ’Clef for the first time.
“I had no idea what was gong to happen,” he said. “I know Wyclef’s songs, and I’m a big fan of his. But I walked into the studio and thought, ’What are we gonna do and what is it gonna sound like?’ I try not to think too much and just go for a mood and sound. He has so many lyrics going around in his head all the time. He does a blog every single day, generally, or every other day, where he describes the events of what happens, whether it’s making his records or his charity. When you hear him talk [in the studio], he’s actually making things up on the spur of the moment, freestyling.”
The building strings and choir of “Hold On” inspired ’Clef to make a more emotional tune, Wilkins believes.
“Hold on, be strong/ No matter what you going through, you know it’s going to be OK today,” Clef sings in the chorus.
“The song was always about reaching out to help people, to the kids, and especially to his country,” Wilkins said, though now the song has an added depth to it given the circumstances. The video also encourages people to text “Yele” to 501501 to donate to Wyclef’s Yele Haiti foundation.
“You never know how well things will connect with people, and I just have a feeling about this record,” he continued. “Every time I hear it, it gives me goose bumps. It still gives me goose bumps, and I’ve probably been listening to it more than anyone in the world. I hope that millions of people will feel the same way.”