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Wyclef Jean Talks About Moving from Haiti to Brooklyn's Projects as a Kid

The music legend tells Desus and Mero about seeing everything in a different light after growing up in Haiti.

by Sarah Bellman
Nov 29 2017, 3:03pm

Wyclef Jean has gained the riches and acclaim that come with being an icon, but the hip-hop artist actually came from very humble roots. When he visited Desus & Mero on Tuesday, he told the hosts how growing up in a hut in Haiti shaped his worldview, starting when he moved to the projects in Brooklyn when he was little.

As Jean explained, the moment he arrived in Brooklyn he was amazed by everything: Food stamps were magic, government cheese was a delicacy, and cheap cars seemed like limos. He shared a story about how his dad let him buy ten pairs of cheap skippy sneakers—called jeepers back then—and it was a dream come true. Although kids made fun of him in school for wearing the cheap kicks by chanting "jeepers creepers," he didn't feel bullied at all. Instead he turned to his brother and said "man, jealousy will kill a person."

He told the VICELAND hosts his history is how he put everything into perspective today, and even inspired him to run for president of Haiti back in 2010.

"Once you're from that reality, there's nothing a man or woman can do to break you," he said.

You can watch Tuesday night’s Desus & Mero for free online now, and be sure to catch new episodes weeknights at 11 PM on VICELAND.

Wyclef Jean
housing projects