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#ThrowbackThursday: “We Trying to Stay Alive” by Wyclef Jean

“We Trying to Stay Alive” was the first single from the Wyclef Jean solo debut album The Carnival.

by Sean Smith

Former Fugee Wyclef Jean is back in the studio working on a new record. The new album, his eighth studio effort, is currently titled Clefication and is tentatively slated for a Summer 2016 release.

Rolling Stone recently stopped by to talk with Wyclef about Clefication and some of the songs being worked on for the project. One of the more intriguing songs Wyclef is working on is an interpretation of the Hall & Oates classic “Rich Girl.” He told Rolling Stone that he was working on the updated version of the track by performing over a sample of the 1977 original. He got rapper Pusha T to jump on the track with a verse, but it was still missing something to Clef. That something was none other than Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates. The two got together and Hall laid down vocals for Wyclef’s new interpretation of his 1977 hit.

Wyclef is no stranger to taking a classic song from the past and putting his own take on it. He first did it as a member of the Fugees, when they included both “No Woman, No Cry” and “Killing Me Softly” on their 1996 album The Score. Those songs originally being recorded by Bob Marley and Lori Lieberman respectfully. As a solo artist he continued to add his own flavor to beloved songs of the past. On his solo debut in 1997 he did a version of “Guantanamera,” an old Cuban song dating back to the 1920s. He also put his own twist on the Bee Gee’s classic “Stayin’ Alive” on that debut album. In 2000 he re-worked “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. In 2002 it was the Four Seasons hit “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).” So for this week’s #tbt we are going to take a look back and remember one of these re-worked classics with his 1997 single “We Trying to Stay Alive.”

The debut solo album for Wyclef Jean was The Carnival released in June of 1997. The album was perhaps best known for the success of its third single, “Gone Til November.” A song that reached as high as the second spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart, and found some crossover success climbing to the seventh spot on the mainstream Billboard Hot 100. But the world was first introduced to The Carnival album through its first single, “We Trying to Stay Alive.” The track was an innovative re-working of the 1977 Bee Gees classic “Stayin’ Alive.” The Wyclef track includes guests spots by fellow ex-Fugee Pras and John Forte’, who wrote and produced for The Fugees on The Score. “We Trying to Stay Alive” performed decently well on the charts, going to number three on the Hot Rap Singles chart and #45 on the Hot 100.

So with Wyclef Jean in the studio working on a new record, and as he has done before taking an old classic and re-working it into his own work, this week we remember “We Trying to Stay Alive” from his 1997 solo debut album The Carnival. Enjoy.


Wyclef Jean

“We Trying to Stay Alive”

From: The Carnival

Ruff House/Columbia Records

Related Media:
Hall & Oats 
“Rich Girl”
RCA Records