Wyclef Blesses Berklee Summer Students, Jokes About Lauryn Hill

The sweetest visitor we ever got at Curry College sleep-away camp was Aaron Krickstein – a relatively significant tennis pro from last century, as well as one of the greatest Jewish athletes ever known. I lost my weed and sexual virginities with a cute older French girl that summer, but otherwise the place was nowhere near as cool as Berklee’s Summer Performance Program.

While I thought the Berklee campers would hardly be familiar enough with guest Wyclef Jean’s seminal work to appreciate his holding down a clinic, I was damn wrong. They sang along to “Gone Till November;” they danced maniacally to “Guantanamera.” These kids are good shits – hardly the dumb obnoxious types you’d find at football camp.

With a band helmed by Berklee faculty member and renowned drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, Wyclef dipped into his catalogue – new and old – and took intermissions to share career secrets. No doubt the ramble of longhairs and baby hipster-hoppers were excited to hear that The Fugees recorded The Score – hip-hop’s best selling group disc of all-time – in a New Jersey cellar.

“What kind of equipment did you use in your basement studio,” asked one kid. “An Akai S-900, a Linn 9000, an old MCI board, and two broken, out-of-tune guitars,” responded Wyclef. “People said I was a genius – that I was using the chromatic scale – but really the guitars were just out of tune.”

The stories spilled; we heard about how Wyclef found jazz in seventh grade, was shot at 13 for defending his aunt, met Quincy Jones at 18, and came to work with everyone from Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to Shakira and Destiny’s Child (hilariously, Clef only recalled the names of Kelly and Beyonce).

The money moment came when one girl asked what the deal is with Lauryn Hill; Wyclef instinctively responded: “She done lost her mind.” He wrote it off as a joke – adding that she’s the most talented female vocalist of our time – but that part won’t likely be remembered.

At the end, Clef said he might enroll at Berklee in the near future. That’s good news for students, since homeboy can throw one hell of a party. By the end of his last song kids were dancing in the aisles and jumping on stage; it was the wildest spectacle I’ve ever seen at the Berklee Performance Center, and it happened in the middle of a Monday afternoon with an audience of adolescents.

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