Wyclef Jean gets political: 'Carnival III,' refugees and Trump's most powerful weapon
Deena Zaru, CNN | 6/23/2017, 12:18 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As the fate of President Donald Trump's travel ban hangs in the balance, Wyclef Jean is sending an empowering message to immigrants and refugees: America wouldn't be great without you.
"When it comes to me and the travel ban, I always speak loud and clear in the sense of understanding personally, where I came from and understanding that this is these United States of America and it is the country of immigrants," he told CNN.
The Trump administration appealed the travel ban case to the Supreme Court earlier this month after a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to halt core portions of the ban indefinitely. The executive order includes a temporary ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries and a blanket ban on refugees.
In his upcoming album, "Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee," which will be out on September 15, the Grammy-winning rapper and musician tackles racial divisions in America and shares his own story as an immigrant from Haiti to empower others.
'The Fall and the Rise of a Refugee'
Jean, who rose to fame in the 90's as part of the hip-hop group the Fugees, along with Lauryn Hill and his cousin Pras Michel, grew up in the Marlboro projects in Brooklyn, where he said the gun culture and the drug culture negatively impacted his community.
In the upcoming album, he shares his story in songs like "Borrowed Time," "Slums," and "What Happened to Love," (produced by The Knocks) which is out Thursday.
"You know me, of course, coming from humble backgrounds, being born in Haiti and having the chance to come to the States at ten years old and basically, turning my entire life around ... We can go from nothing and make something out of ourselves," he said.
Jean ran for president of Haiti in 2010 after the country was ravaged by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed somewhere between 220,000 and 316,000 people and initially displaced about 1.5 million.
As of September 2016, 55,107 displaced people remained and many of them, have taken refuge in the United States.
The Trump administration granted Haitians who came to the US after the earthquake a six-month extended protection from deportation last month after the expiration of the program became controversial.
Jean, who was performing in Miami's "Little Haiti" when the decision was announced said that the extension is a "start," but urged the Trump administration to institute a "much longer extension" to give Haitians in Haiti "the time to rebuild."
On fake news and Trump's most powerful weapon
Jean, who backed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that Trump has utilized his most powerful weapon -- "the power to distract" -- to take the focus off stories that paint him or his administration in a negative light and cast them all as "fake news."
"Propaganda or the idea of fake news ... that's not conspiracy theory, that's real, but at the end of the day they say that where there's smoke there's fire," Jean said. "There's something and the curiosity is getting to what that something is."
Comparing Trump to a Caesar who ruled Rome, Jean said that Trump's deep understanding of the media and his prolific use of social media have allowed him to control the conversation.
"When a Caesar understands how to play the area then he knows how to control everything," Jean said. "When he's yelling execute, you're not paying attention -- you're too busy laughing and roaring at the arena."
Jean said that Trump, who is a former reality TV star and entertainer, is "very smart" because understands the human psyche and "the power of the media" and he is using that to his advantage whenever he tweets or whenever he says something that goes viral.
Amid the noise, Jean urged Americans to remain focused on what matters.
"Before you can get to Donald Trump right? And you hit that ballot booth or you hit that next piece of legislation always remember that you have within your cities, you have councilmen, you have mayor, you have senators that are going to go to Washington and speak on your behalf. You should be holding those people accountable first."