Wyclef Jean has had his hands tied up in political and social efforts for the past few years, but in 2013, his focus returns squarely to the music. His Refugee Republic album arrives in September, but his new mixtape April Showers comes first, and it'll introduce Clef's music to a generation of fans, with cuts like "Trap 'N Roll" featuring Waka Flocka Flame.
"It was important to start off with a mixtape because if a kid sees me who's about 15 or 16 [years old], he'll be like, 'Oh that's the guy who ran for president,' or 'That's the guy who sings 'Hips Don't Lie' with Shakira,' " Clef told MTV News when we visited him in the studio. "It was important that they know that I'm an MC first. A lot of kids will get a chance to discover why I was called the '80 bars king.'
"Hip-Hop" is the first single from Refugee Republic, taking a full-circle look at the culture, from NWA to Chief Keef, but he's since followed that up with "Mid-Life Crisis" from April Showers and still to come is the certified mixtape headbanger 'Trap N Roll' featuring Waka.
"When I heard Waka, I just thought of Run DMC and Aerosmith when they [recorded] 'Walk This Way,' " he said of his reasons for linking up with the Atlanta rapper.
"Waka's voice just sounds like when I listen to a Metallica record. He has that chain of command, so I had an idea. [I wondered] what would happen if we took trap music and put it against rock music, so it would be my guitar against trap — what would that sound like? If we took all of that, melted it together and then we put the two W's together ... what kinda fusion, scientifically, would happen?"
Apparently, it sounds like nothing we've heard thus far. "It's the first of its kind, and it's crazy," Clef added. "We did a few records, but this right here is gonna just have people saying, 'OK, this is a whole 'nother combination.' "
April Showers will also feature collaborations with artists like 2 Chainz, and each studio session was a special one.
"For me, what's interesting is that when the younger artists come to work with me, they're not looking for what they have. They're looking to get out of the box and just do something totally different. To me, that's always what's exciting."