With technology revolutionizing the music industry,
Wyclef Jean looked to the past in order to figure out the future of the billion-dollar
“I read the Russell Simmons book, the Berry
Gordy book,” he told AllHipHop.com from Platinum Studios. “And I was
like ‘What’s the next level?’
“Focus,” he said, answering his own
Clef explained focus is the organization of music
and business. With that in mind, the Refugee All-Star started Clef Records,
an independent venture that is as close to being vertically integrated as possible.
Wyclef and long-time collaborator Jerry Wonder produce everything, which is
recorded at Clef’s studio, and then they press it up themselves and shop
it to a distributor.
As a musician and artist, Wyclef stated he can’t
do everything and that’s why he will still shop for distribution. “The
distribution game is not what we do,” he clarified. “I don’t
want to be in the distribution business, that’s a headache within its own.
I’m gonna pay you a fee to get it from here to Japan quicker than me.”
The first acts on Clef Records that will require
distribution are female rapper Trini Don and Bronx R&B group 3 on 3, whose
father is former Harlem Globetrotter Clarence “Mugsy” Leggett.
Wyclef boasted how his artists write their own
lyrics, which presents their authentic point of view. “They got a whole
side of the BX that’s like Motown now,” he said of his crooners’
residence. “That side is not expressed.”
One person who Wyclef won’t allow to help
express himself is Dylan of the Da Band, who speculated on his future with the
hit-making producer. Clef was also featured on “Making of the Band II”
giving advice to the young dancehall artist.
“You never know what can happen. Wyclef
is a big supporter of everything that I do. He co-signed the first song, ‘Dear
Diddy’” Dylan told AllHipHop.com in a recent interview. “Me and Clef
chill every other day if I’m in New York.”
While Wyclef did acknowledge the track, he also
said it was highly unlikely he would recruit the dancehall artist to his label.
“It’s a crazy record,” he admitted.
“But my relationship with Puffy—Puffy’s just too powerful. Really
“Then he’s my friend,” Clef added,
explaining how Diddy specifically called him and asked him to appear on “Making
of The Band II” because he hadn’t had much exposure recently. “I
can’t sign Dylan.”
Wyclef previously had a deal for his Yclef Records
(a different label from Clef Records) imprint through J Records, but the only
release was the soundtrack to Dr. Doolittle 2.
Wyclef is still signed to J Records and will
release his next solo album on the label. No date has been set at press time.