Wyclef Jean says Bob Marley is the biggest artist in the world, and he wants to educate young dancehall musicians about sync licensing.
Jamaican music has only seemed to increase in popularity over the years, and while many debate whether contemporary dancehall will have longevity, especially considering the latest experimental fusions, Hatian-American rapper and singer Wyclef Jean is convinced that something big is on the horizon, and he is noticeably passionate about leading the youth in the right direction.
Dancehall music has remained one of the most popular influences on the global stage for decades despite being significantly less streamlined than other, more mainstream genres. Seeing the potential in the genre and projected growth now with the younger artists managing to make big moves with the advent of social media platforms like Tik-Tok and neo-dancehall sounds, Wyclef Jean has started a campaign to teach artists the importance of sync licensing.
Through the Island Music Conference, which is set to take place in Kingston, Jamaica, later this year, Wyclef plans to mentor any young artist who cares to learn about licensing and how to create not only passive income but multiple streams of it. In a recent interview with one of the island’s longest-standing entertainment TV shows, The Entertainment Report, Wyclef shed some light on what exactly he’s trying to educate young Jamaican artists about.
Wyclef Jean and Ishawna / Urban Islandz
“The power of licensing means when I’m sitting in my house and I’m eating popcorn with my daughter and I’m watching the Super Bowl and Shakira and J-Lo comes on and they go ‘Shakira, Shakira’ – that’s the power of licensing,” the three-time Grammy winning artist explained. He goes on to share how he was introduced to licensing through an anecdote about the uber-successful 1996 record The Score by Fugees.
Wyclef says that when Lauryn Hill introduced the idea to do a remake of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” the song sold “a gazillion copies,” but it was the publishers who licensed the song that actually benefited financially. This opened up the “Gone Till November” artists’ eyes to the ins and outs of the music business and the importance of sync licensing.
“Along with the license, it’s how do we create different avenues to give kids like 3 or 4 ways to make money at a time,” Wyclef continued. “What I want the younger generation to understand is we can have this conversation because we all making money. So, you’re making money but I’m 54, I was making money since I was like 19, 20. I became a millionaire at 20. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I’ve levelled off well. And at the end of the day I would like to see more youth level off well.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Wyclef Jean revealed some young artists that he would love to see at the Island Music Conference this year, including Chronixx, Masicka, Teejay, Skeng, Chronic Law, and more.
Jean continued: “Even if you speak to a Burna Boy, he’s gonna tell you that he is naturally influenced by what is going on in Jamaica. Understand this: the power of Jamaican music ain’t going nowhere. What it does is that it spreads, and it takes different forms. Because at the end of the day, the biggest artist in the world, period, till today, no cap is Bob Marley. I think that the younger kids, they get this information from Africa and now they’re gonna do their version of what’s called Afrobeat but it’s still inspired by the dancehall and the reggae of Jamaica.”
The Grammy winner also spoke about the undeniable global influence of dancehall and was visibly excited about the fact that “TikTok is responding to it heavy.” He explained that the genre’s fusion with foreign elements through modern artists is a recipe for something big.
“There’s a whole big thing going on. It leaves it to a new fusion being brewed in the future which I’m excited about,” he added.