The former Fugees member told CNN that country and hip hop are “something tangible” that people can relate to.
“Country doesn’t compromise the story for anyone, it tells things they way they really are – ‘my girlfriend done left me today and I’m drinking some Jack Daniels’ – that’s what it is today,” Jean said.
“Hip hop doesn’t compromise things either, it’s like ‘this is the neighborhood, this is what’s going on.’”
Jean also described Bob Dylan as “one of the original rappers.”
What brought up Dylan? Perhaps it was the music icon’s guest appearance in the video for Jean’s Grammy-nominated “Gone Till November” that sparked the description.
“This is one of the songs I’m most proud of – having Bob Dylan showing up for the video.” Jean said. “‘Gone Till November’ is the blueprint to my career as a solo artist.”
Born in Haiti, Jean moved to Brooklyn when he was 9. The son of a poor minister, Jean also told CNN that his father’s church helped ignite the musical flames within him.
“My music career started inside a church, similar to Marvin Gaye,” Jean said. “My whole entertainment swagger comes from the energy of the church.”
As to what he hopes to accomplish with his music, Jean, who has been deeply involved with Haiti earthquake relief efforts, said his work aspires to promote nothing short of universal peace.
“As a student of Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and John Lennon, my message is universal love, that’s what we have to strive for,” Jean said.
“My music sees no color, it just sees people – the more we can unite, the better the world can be.”
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