Jimmy Cliff and Wyclef Jean team up for ‘Refugees’
Releasing first album in 10 years
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winning icon Jimmy Cliff has teamed up with Fugees co-founder Wyclef Jean for a new single titled Refugees. This track paves the way for his first album in over a decade, Refugees, which is scheduled to be released on August 12 via UMe.
With a dance version now, and rap version due out later, Refugees captures the spirit of Cliff’s most classic output with a neo-soul hip-hop twist, courtesy of Wyclef. It also continues the creative and spiritual connection between these two mavericks, as Wyclef famously inducted Cliff into the Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
Regarding this generational collaboration, Wyclef commented, “For me, coming to America wasn’t easy when I first got here. Having family members who suffered political torment, it wasn’t easy for us. When I say ‘Fugees,’ ‘Fugees’ is short for ‘refugees’. I was always like, ‘If I could penetrate a message, it would be that.’ And who inspires that? Jimmy Cliff is one of my biggest inspirations ever, and he has always stayed on message when it comes to peace, love, and unity. The collaboration with this record is just what we are, talking for the forgotten. In an era where love is needed, I don’t think anybody can convey that better than the king.”
That’s what the “king” does best on Refugees.
Cliff said, “I’m very proud of this, because it sees Jimmy Cliff in a new musical direction. I’ll always go into something new. Even though Refugees is a heavy title, you’re going to be moving your feet because it’s on the dancefloor. There we go. I love it.”
Among the 13 tracks, he notably collaborates with his daughter, Lilty, on the emotional Racism.
“The way the song came about is just a story about musicians having fun together. I was just messing around. The band leader ended up recording a few things. Next thing I know, I hear I’m actually going to be featuring on a song. Jimmy’s a man who has always stayed true to his beliefs. I think Racism is a song that really shows what the whole Refugees album is about, which is unity and tolerance. The fact [that] I get to be a part of is really amazing. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I see you,” Lilty said.
As lively as ever, Cliff celebrated his 78th birthday on July 30. This year also marked the 50th anniversary of the timeless The Harder They Come – the classic film starring Cliff originally released in 1972. His creation of The Harder They Come soundtrack effectively pioneered and popularised reggae. Given its importance, The Library of Congress deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and chose it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. The album’s release also fittingly follows the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.
In 2012, Cliff gifted the world with Rebirth, which received a Grammy Award in the category of Best Reggae Album and closed out the year on Rolling Stone’s ‘50 Best Albums of 2012’. Jimmy Cliff stands out as the only living reggae musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican Government for achievements in the arts and sciences.