President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": As soon as I heard about the earthquake in Haiti, the only organization I focused on donating to was Wyclef's profit organization Yele Haiti because he was trying to help Haiti before it was the "in" thing to do. I'm not knocking any other organization, but Wyclef has always been known for going back to his birthplace to help Haitian people. He doesn't just talk about helping the community. He does it. According to Yele Haiti's site, the non-profit organization has created over 3,000 jobs; 7,000 children were given an education; over 8,000 people receive food; and 2,000 people a month learn about HIV/AIDS prevention. Now add that to his outstanding success as a member of the hip-hop group The Fugees and his solo career that continues to grow. He's a musical humanitarian, and I will always respect him for that.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: Two CDs (I own all of them) that I played the hell out of during college were "The Carnival' and "The Ecleftic." My roommate and I played those two albums nonstop and probably irritated our suitemates to death. I dig how he blends so many genres together like "Guantanamera," "Jaspora," "Yele" and "Diallo." Spanish music. Haitian music. Hip-hop music. R&B music. Give him a guitar and it got even better. My favorite songs are "Diallo," "If I Was President," "Gunpowder," "Gone Till November" and "Low Income" (in that order), but I usually play the rest of his songs without pressing the next button. When he appears on other people's songs (ex. T.I.'s "You Know What It Is" and Destiny's Child's "No No No"), it's always that much better.
Accomplishments from the Artist: It wouldn't be fair to not mention his success with two-time Grammy-award winning The Fugees before I talk about his solo work. As a triple team with singer/rapper/actor Lauryn Hill and rapper Pras, they took the hip-hop world by storm, spending 16 weeks on the Billboard charts with "Nappy Heads" and 20 weeks with "Fu-Gee-La." And he was a phenomenal gift to the Billboard charts and radio stations everywhere when he went solo. Billboard hits included "Gone Till November" (19 weeks), "Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)" (21 weeks), "911" (18 weeks), "We Trying to Stay Alive" (12 weeks), "Party to Damascus" (9 weeks), "Two Wrongs" peaked at number 28 on the charts. He was also nominated for approximately six Grammys as a solo artist.
Wyclef Jean is the founder of Yele Haiti non-profit organization.
Yele Haiti was created in 2005.
Yele Haiti teaches HIV/AIDS prevention, and gives food, job and education assistance.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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