Wyclef Jean earned a remarkable respect for Young Thug's artistry after they collaborated for "Jeffery."
The opening track on Young Thug's latest project, Jeffery, is called "Wyclef Jean," perhaps partly due to its reggae influence. Wyclef Jean himself shows up on the project's final song, which is, for reasons not entirely clear, entitled "Kanye West." Speaking to Pigeons & Planes, the 46-year-old Fugees singer and emcee explains how Thugger had reached out for them to work together and how their Jeffery collab eventually came about. Since their first meeting, Thug and Wyclef have developed a close rapport. The Atlanta rapper will guest on a track called "I Swear," off Wyclef's upcoming J'ouvert EP. In the new interview, Wyclef even went as far to compare Thug to a late legend who was a contemporary of his: Tupac Shakur.
When Thug first got in touch with Wyclef, he apparently told him, "You're one of my greatest inspirations." Wyclef then describes Thug playing him "some of the best music I've heard in my life." The session took place on Thug's birthday, and to warm up for adding his vocals to "Kanye West," Wyclef began singing, "Happy birthday to you, Jeffery." It was Thug's idea to loop Wyclef's "Jeffery" and use it as a backing vocal throughout the track.
Young Thug also demonstrated his love for Wyclef's homeland of Haiti when they first met. Thug hails from an impoverished part of Atlanta colloquially known as "Lil Haiti." He was excited to tell Wyclef that he had named his daughter Haiti and to show him his "Haiti" tattoo. Thug's similar background and his innate connection to Haiti is what prompted Wyclef to make the Tupac comparison.
"Sometimes you don't realize who you are affecting," explained Wyclef. "But he's from a project, I'm from a similar background. And he has a natural love for Haiti, understanding the history of Haiti. Haiti is the first black republic. He reminded me of a modern Tupac, in a sense -- in a revolutionary sense."
He went on to expound on the Pac connection, explaining, "I mean that by, alright, you might see a thug, but his connection to history seemed similar to what Pac understood, of like, 'This is who the Black Panthers are. Read this book, read that book.'" Wyclef detailed about how he sent Thug a documentary that he executive produced, "Ghosts of Cité Soleil," which provides a portrait of the gang violence in the worst parts of Port-au-Prince. Thug's already seen it "10, 15 times," says Wyclef. "He is like a sponge when it comes to history."
Wyclef Jean's J'ouvert EP is set to drop next month. Read the full P&P interview, which also covers the disaster his country is experiencing due to Hurricane Matthew, here.