UPGRADED | WYCLEF JEAN MURAL IN NEWARK
Wyclef Jean has earned many achievements in his life: a 20 foot mural featuring his face in Newark’s West Ward is now one of them. The 3-time GRAMMY-winning rapper, musician, actor and producer told the local crowd that it is not just his face there – but theirs too.
The mural is titled “Key to Life” was created by international artist Camille Coté (aka FABS), and is located across the street from the Urban League of Essex County’s (ULEC) main office, in the Fairmount neighborhood.
While Wyclef was there to celebrate this mural unveiling, he thanked his music teachers in Newark and Amiri Baraka for motivating his love of music and art. He also emphasized how people working at and with local organizations, like ULEC, are the ones who inspire him. And that’s why he was proud to swap his designer coat for a custom made one donated to him that day.
“When y’all see Uncle Wyclef’s face on that, just know it’s not my face, that is your face and it’s gonna be your face.”
The Wyclef Jean mural is the first in the planned “Newark Murals” project, which aims to honor musical legends of Newark in each of the city’s five wards. It’s a collaboration between Prudential Center’s GRAMMY Museum Experience, Prudential Financial, Newark Arts, and Yendor Arts.
You got two groups of people. People who talk about it, and then you got people that put themselves on the front line to actually help their community.And I think this is what this represents for me.
♪ What if I had put blanks in Marvin Gaye’s father’s gun ♪
Newark was a beautiful flower, right. ‘Cause if you dug in, then you found art. And then art sorta like was the umbrella that covered you. Without art, we don’t have community. It’s important to understand that completely and thoroughly.
I’m excited to have Wyclef Jean with us here this morning. It is very appropriate that the mural is dedicated to him and his work here in the West Ward.
I would never be able to do this if I didn’t understand the fundamental of music as art that’s universal. So for me, we see Newark, but Newark to me has always been international. So it is an honor today. And when y’all see Uncle Wyclef’s face on that, just know it’s not my face, that is your face and it’s gonna be your face and continue to be your face. And I love the youth 100%. Newark forever.
So many great things that are beginning, that are emerging from this great neighborhood. This is the right space for this right time. Our hope is that this mural project draws attention to and inspires talented artists and puts a spotlight on our great city.
Alright, let’s cut. One, two, three.
When we undertook the strategic plan for this neighborhood, the planners said that the only green space in Fairmount was the cemetery. We can declare that that is no longer the case. And I wanna recognize Wyclef for wearing one of our great fashions. Sister comes over and she’s like, yo, I know you a Libra. So I know your style.
I can’t wear my Dolce Gabbana jacket, you feel me? That had to come off, ’cause this is way more important. This represents way more and says way more to the people.
UPGRADED | Original series
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