Wyclef Jean, the former Fugees frontman and Haitian native, has some sharp words for opponents who question the work he’s done to help earthquake stricken country. The nation is still recovering from the effects of the January earthquake, and Jean is trying to make sure his reputation doesn’t suffer due to criticism he deems unfair.
The musician remains in the spotlight weeks after Haitian officials denied him the opportunity to run for president of the country. Jean responded to some of those who criticized his presidential ambitions such as Academy Award winning actor Sean Penn, and his former Fugees bandmate, Pras. Both seemed worried that Jean’s celebrity wasn’t enough to help him lead Haiti’s nearly 10 million residents.
Jean took to the stage during a concert for New York radio station Hot 97 and performed an updated version of his song “If I Was President.” The new lyrics accused Penn of not knowing his contributions in Haiti, because he may have been too busy “sniffing cocaine”. In an August interview Penn said he was suspicious of Wyclef Jean’s motives for seeking the presidency in Haiti. At the time Penn said he feared he would take attention away from the recovery efforts still underway in Haiti, and therefore called on him to drop his bid.
WATCH FOOTAGE OF WYCLEF’S PERFORMANCE HERE:
The rapper saved a barb for his former bandmate who he said he still had love for, but said Pras’ contributions to the Fugees amounted to “only eight bars.” Pras, also a Haitian native, endorsed one of Jean’s opponents, and said he questioned whether Jean had a clear vision for helping the nation.
Penn’s representatives released a statement in response to Wyclef’s accusations, saying the actor is not a drug user. “Mr. Jean is clearly unfamiliar with the physical demands put upon volunteers in Haiti,” read the statement. “As aid workers there, the notion of depleting the body’s immune system through the use of illicit drugs is ludicrous.” Pras has yet to respond to the dis from his former friend.
Immediately following the decision by Haitian election officials to block Jean from running for president, he said he would continue to support recovery efforts. He said in a blog post, “Rest assured, this isn’t the end of my efforts to help improve my beloved country but only marks a new beginning.”