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Sound in Motion

Former (and future?) Fugee Wyclef Jean arrives in St. Louis to present The Ecleftic

"Next year, man, definitely. 2001, for sure," he says.

Still -- are relations between Wyclef and his bandmates so strained that he really has to ask them on record to give him a call?

"No, man, that's just me, you know?" he says. "It's, like, the way I wanted to set up the record. A lot of people think, "Yo, when's the next Fugee record?' So I said, I'm going to start the record by calling Pras and Lauryn and talking about that stuff."

Of course, it's not as if Wyclef doesn't have anything else on his plate these days. He's just signed with Clive Davis' J Records to oversee his own label, appropriately called Clef Records, for which he will find, sign and produce new bands. Also in the works are more collaborations like the ones that have enjoyed lots of airplay in the last year or so: Whitney Houston's "My Love Is Your Love" and Santana's "Maria Maria."

The hardest thing, Wyclef says, is keeping his approach to his own records separate in his head from the way he looks at these all-star collaborations.

"For one of my projects, I get lowdown and dirty, you know? 'Cause Clef don't give a fuck," he says. "Musically, I like to break barriers and go crazy. I think when you're working with an artist like a Whitney or Carlos, you have to go into the other head. I have a producer's head, too, you know? When I go inside to the producer's head, I look at Whitney, and first, I'm a fan, so I know the history of her music, and I think, what can I give her that can bring her to the next level but that the music stays credible and hard? That's where I come in. So I would make all the top chords real pretty, but the drums, once again, the beat and the bass, we would always make harder.

"Doing all these things I get to do these days is cool. I'm like a kid in a candy store."

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