When Haiti-born rapper Wyclef Jean released his single “If I was President,” in 2008, he was doing more than playing a musical game of “what if.”
After day-long speculation, Jean confirmed with the Wall Street Journal that he will run for president of Haiti in the upcoming November 28 elections. Jean is set to officially discuss his candidacy Thursday on Larry King Live. While the transition from recording artist to politician might seem like a jump, according to Jean’s interview with Time, this is no new ambition, only one made more pressing by the 7.0 earthquake that hit the island in January.
“If not for the earthquake, I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this,” Jean said. “The quake drove home to me that Haiti can’t wait another 10 years for us to bring it into the 21st century.”
In the months since the quake, national media attention has waned, though problems throughout the country continue. CNN reported the death toll near 220,000 and the injury count around 300,000 people.
The clean up effort has been slow. Rubble still blocks off road ways in the center of capital city Port-au-Prince.
Imogen Wall, a United Nations spokeswoman for the office of humanitarian affairs said, “”We have moved 250,000 cubic meters of rubble, which sounds like a lot, until you realize there’s 20 million cubic meters of rubble here.” The U.N. also estimates that one in nine Haitians are homeless.
Time pointed out that with more than half of Haiti’s population under the age of twenty-five, Jean’s place in pop culture should help him snag the top job.
He also started the Yéle Haiti foundation in 2005 to channel humanitarian relief toward the Haitian population.
From “Hold On”
“Hold on, be strong
No matter what you’re goin’ through
You know it’s gon’ be okay, okay, today
Even when the earth quakes”
From “If I was President”
“Instead of spending billions on the war,
I can use that money, to feed the poor.
I know some so poor, when it rains that’s when they shower,
when screaming ‘fight the power’.
That’s when the vulture devoured”
From “New Day”
“I turn the page
What’s the news today
People getting fired, walking on a wire
Looting on the streets cause the kid’s gotta eat
Oh, oh turn around and look at the hour glass
I gotta get it straight
Before it’s too late
Cause I don’t wanna be behind that gates”
From The Fugees’ “Ooh La La La”:
“If your mafiosos then I’m bringin’ on Haitian Sicilians
Nobody’s shootin’, my body’s made of hand grenade
Girl bled to death while she was tongue-kissing a razor blade.”