Raahil Chopra
Jun 22, 2020

Lions Live 2020: 'Brands have the financial power and backing to make a difference': Wyclef Jean

The rapper addresses racism issues and states brands need to step up and take a stance.

Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean
Lions Live featured Wyclef Jean in the first of its 'at home' series part of the five-day online learning festival.
Jean started his talk by stating how he's disappointed by not being able to be physically in Cannes for his talk.
Answering a question about how he's stayed relevant over the course of his career, Jean compared himself to Steve Jobs. 
Jean, who was part of the hip-hop band The Fugees, said, "Twenty record companies passed on The Fugees and said it's not going to work. This is how it started for us. What do 'The Fugees and Steve Job have in common?' He started something in his garage, we started in the basement. The score was done in my uncle's basement. Now, we're in a world of modern technology where hardware has converted to software. I have watched this move from hardware to software. The key is to adapt and stay normal. I'm from the 90s and now it's 2020. You can't do that wrong dance that was cool earlier now, because it will look weird. You can't act like that, people will figure you're trying to be cool. You're either cool or not. I learnt something from being in a studio with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, who I call my mentor - the true invention has to be a consistency of embedding yourself inside a culture. Whether it's music, fashion, politics, humanitarian work you need to embed yourself in the culture. So, I'm relevant in 2020 too because I've embedded myself within the culture."
Jean then spoke about the protests around the world around #BlackLivesMatter and called it 'The Great Awakening'.
"What makes the Floyd different? If you have looked in the past, even when I got stopped by officers in LA and they said that I was going for something in his trunk when I wasn't. They approached me on some gang affiliation. I was telling the cops my name and they were so scared that they didn't recognise who I am. I had no gun on me, they were not in uniform. I wanted to get out and run. Had I done it, it could be a different case. Why this is a great awakening - for the first time in the world we have a video from every angle and form. Every true revolution starts with the youth. A 17-year old has changed the face of the universe. If the 17-year old never captured it, this great awakening wouldn't happen," said Jean.
He then urged brands to be on the right side of it by not just showing that they're interested, but actually doing something. 
He said, "You can't fake it. Brands earn a lot from these communities. So, it's time they don't just talk about it, but do something. What they extract from the communities should be put back. It should start with job creation. Brands have a chance to change the face of the universe for people. Brands have the financial power and enough backing to do this. Often brands are afraid to make decisions because they haven't felt strongly enough. That would change if there are people who have faced it in the room to make these decisions.
Campaign India

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