Jean moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was nine, then to Northern New Jersey, where he began playing the guitar and studying jazz in his mostly-black high school. In 1987, Jean, his friend (so close they told people they were cousins growing up) Prakazrel Michel (Pras) and his classmate, Lauryn Hill, formed a group called the Tranzlator Crew before becoming The Fugees. Wyclef worked as a cabdriver.
The Fugees signed to Ruffhouse Records and released their debut, ''Blunted on Reality'', but the album was panned and sold poorly. Their eclectic follow-up, ''The Score'', however, sold over 17 million copies worldwide and turned the trio into international superstars. Jean soon announced plans to begin a solo career with 1997's ''Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival Featuring the Refugee All-Stars'' (more typically called simply ''The Carnival''). The album's guests included Hill and Pras along with Jean's siblings, the I Threes (back-up vocals for Bob Marley), Neville Brothers and Celia Cruz. The album was a major hit, as were two singles: "We Trying to Stay Alive" (adapted from The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive") and "Gone Til November" (recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestr...