Originally from Haiti, Wyclef Jean moved with his family to the United States when he was nine years old. Before enjoying success as a member of the hip hop group, Fugees, he already developed a strong enough talent in music that inspired his mother to encourage him to pursue this career choice. From 1992 until 1997, then 2004 until 2006, and now again as of 2021, Wyclef Jean has been a part of the Fugees, along with bandmate and former love interest, Lauryn Hill. Pras Michel is the third member of the band, who did the same as Wyclef and Lauryn, pursuing a solo music career during the time frame the band was not recording nor touring together.
For Wyclef Jean, his career as a soloist began after Fugees broke up the first time in 1997. As a solo artist, he has produced nine studio albums, two extended plays, and a compilation album, In total, he has twenty-five singles. As for The Fugees, the band has recorded and released two studio albums, a compilation album, a remix album, and ten singles.
Top 10 Wyclef Jean Solo Songs
#10 – It Doesn’t Matter (featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson)
The second studio album that came from Wyclef Jean’s solo career was The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book. The single, “It Doesn’t Matter,” featured quips from Dwayne Johnson’s professional wrestling persona, The Rock, during his days as a World Wrestling Entertainment star. There are a number of sampled music tracks also featured in the song that comes from a variety of artists, including Bad Manners, John Denver, Ricky Martin, and Slick Rick. Catchy, comedic, and true to hip-hop style, It Doesn’t Matter became a charted success as it peaked at the number one spot on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart.
Among most European nations, as well as Canada, the song charted within the top forty of their respective music charts. On the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs, it charted as high as number twenty-five. Fast, comedic, and jazzy from start to finish, this hip-hop poke at pop culture sees a lighter side to what’s otherwise seen as a heavy-popping genre of music.
#9 – Dear Future Self (Hands Up) (featuring Fall Out Boy)
Released in 2019, “Dear Future Self (Hands Up)” is a duo performance from Wyclef Jean and Fall Out Boy. The single comes from the collaborated album, Greatest Hits: Believers Never Die – Volume Two. Designed as a surf-rock song featured the sample music from Inna’s Hands Up, which she recorded and released in 2017. Fast, funny, and catchy, Dear Future Self is one of those songs that is better to just get caught up in the beat and simply dance to it.
#8 – 911 (with Mary Blige)
The heartfelt duet performance of lovers torn apart due to dramatic circumstances featured Mary Blige and Wyclef Jean as the brilliant, melodic voices behind the hit single, “911.” It was released on September 5, 2000, and came from Wyclef Jean’s second studio album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song charted at number thirty-eight. However, on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Eurochart Hot 100, it peaked at number six. Worldwide, 911 was received favorably enough to chart within the top forty of every major European music chart, as well as in Canada. The song also became certified platinum in Norway, gold in France and Sweden, and silver in the UK.
#7 – We Trying to Stay Alive (featuring The Bee Gees, Pras, and John Forte)
The first single Wyclef Jean released after departing from Fugees in 1997 was “We Trying to Stay Alive.” Although technically a soloist at this point, the song was a collaborated performance between Jean, Pras, and Forte, as they used sampled music from the Bee Gees’ 1977 hit, Stayin’ Alive, and Audio Two’s 1987 single, Top Billin’. Although approval from the Bee Gees was granted for Wyclef’s first single as a solo artist, Barry Gibb admitted after hearing it played he didn’t care for it. While Gibb didn’t care for the song, apparently the fans did as it charted as high as number six on the Canadian Hot 100 and as high as number fourteen on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It also charted at number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart.
#6 – No Woman, No Cry (solo version)
The reggae-style song, “No Woman, No Cry,” was originally performed by Bob Marley and the Waiters in 1974. The Fugees covered this song in 1996, which is featured on their second studio album, The Score. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) of the UK certified the single as silver for having over 200,000 copies of it sold. With the Recorded Music of New Zealand (RMNZ), the song earned gold certification for having 5,000 of its copies sold in that nation. On the music charts of UK’s Hip Hop and R&B Songs and New Zealand’s, No Woman, No Cry peaked at number one.
Aside from the US Billboard Radio Songs chart where the single charted at number thirty-eight, it was only among nations outside of North America that recognized the single-worthy enough to earn a spot within the top forty of their respective music charts. While all this recognition goes to Fugees as a band, Wyclef Jean recorded a solo version of this song, which is featured on his 2003 Greatest Hits compilation album.
#5 – Cheated (To All the Girls)
“Cheated (To All the Girls”)” was the fourth single released from Wyclef Jean’s debut album, The Carnival, which appeared as high as number six on the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked at number nineteen. Despite the song not charting high on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number sixty-one, it still became an RIAA platinum-certified song for selling over one million copies within the United States. This smooth R&B playout harmonized in perfect sync with Wyclef Jean’s melodic vocals.
#4 – Gone till November
In 1997, after Fugees officially broke up as a band, Wyclef Jean recorded and released his debut album, The Carnival. From it, the third single it’d release was “Gone till November.” It became the first of his singles to achieve platinum certification from the USA’s RIAA. On the music charts, the song peaked as high as number one on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Singles chart and at number three on the UK Singles Chart. Gone till November also charted at number four on the Canadian Hot 100. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted at number seven.
#3 – Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill) (featuring Akon, Niia, and Lil Wayne)
Wyclef Jean’s sixth studio album, Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, was released in 2007 and featured the single “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill).” The collaborated performance between Jean, Akon, Niia, and Lil Wayne brought forth a globally charted hit that was recognized in the top forty lists among the nations of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland. On the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40, Sweetest Girl charted at number ten while on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number twelve.
The single also sold enough copies to become certified Platinum by USA’s RIAA, as well as certified Gold with the Recorded Music of New Zealand (RMNZ). The focus of the song was placed on some of the difficult circumstances that are associated with immigration and refugee camps. The performance from each artist as they sing out the narrative is as powerful as it is rhythmic.
#2 – Maria Maria (featuring Carlos Santana and Product G&B)
On the US Billboard Hot 100, US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, US Billboard Dance Singles Chart, and on a number of globally-recognized music charts, “Maria Maria” earned the top spot as a hit single in 2000. The collaboration between Wyclef Jean and Carlos Santana, who featured the Product G&B, came about after an inspired Wyclef Jean admitted his melodic riff was thanks to some of Wu-Tang Clan’s music.
The mix of Wyclef Jean’s hip-hop style with Carlos Santana’s Latino groove made this song a cult favorite. It also won a Grammy Award in 2000 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The song also became certified platinum among the nations of Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA. From the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK, the single was certified gold. Maria Maria belongs to Santana’s eighteenth studio album, Supernatural.
#1 – Hips Don’t Lie (featuring Shakira)
The combined vocal talents of Shakira and Wyclef Jean brought forth the hit single, “Hips Don’t Lie,” in 2006. The song belongs to Shakira’s seventh studio album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2. With millions of copies of the hit single sold just in the USA alone, and becoming quadruple platinum, Hips Don’t Lie became one of the best-selling singles of all time in the country.
It also broke the world record for receiving the most amount of radio play in a single week, as well as becoming the fastest-selling digital downloaded song in America. This was the first and only song to Shakira’s credit that reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. Globally, this song also became multi-platinum among the nations of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Switzerland.
Top 10 Wyclef Jean Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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