Updated: Mar 6, 2020
This ramble has nothing to do with skincare, and everything to do with the brains, heart, grit and soul of being a creative entrepreneur who is deeply committed to being the change I want to see in the world. It is more journal entry than anything.
This post is about my an all-time favorite musician, alongside Pink Floyd, an artist deeply embedded in the sound story of a life thoroughly lived, through a gazillion miles, years of grind + hope, so many dance parties, so many sad days. And until last night, the man had no clue I existed: Mr. Wyclef Jean.
Started listening to Wyclef a few years after learning English. We moved to America when my parents were in their early thirties, 3 kids in tow, not a penny to their name. They worked 7 days a week, 12-15 hour days, doing all the jobs, all the side-hustles. Chasing the American dream.
At that time, we lived in Fontana. The 909 in the 90’s. It’s still a bit gritty there, but nothing like it was then. I’m thankful for what those streets ended up rooting in me, latch-key gen-x, but it was not a light and fluffy existence, to say the least. If you know that area, at that time, you know. But we had great music. I’d pull into FOHI in my 1974 VW Bug with a crappy stereo system, blasting Fugees, Pink Floyd, Korn, Biggie, NWA, Sage Francis, Fugazi, Primus. Sublime was still at some of the skater garage parties. Mazzy Star and Courtney Love were playing at The Copasetic Cafe.
Wyclef Jean’s music is an automatic memory-reel for me. Those early years, then through my twenties when I was kayaking around the world, living in a school bus in the 707, or working on the S. Fork of The American then moving to Montana. Sunny post-river days, anxiety riddled Saturn returns , the grime of 909 fading into a patina. I’m white-skinned, and am so aware it was easier for me to leave the hood and re-create an entire existence because of it. I lost my immigrant accent, and after a few years out of San Bernadino, my street slang was more and more veiled. I spoke more like a moonchild riverat than a hoodrat, although it was all weaved together in the deep soul.
Later, as I started businesses, moved a bunch of times, fell in love, broke-up, kept sucking the marrow from life, Wyclef 's beats were always there. In my 20+ years as an esthetician, thousands of bikini waxes have been done with Wyclef in the playlist! My taste in music expanded through globe-trotting, and I began to appreciate even more the collabs he did. I got more involved with impoverished regions of the world which deepened the admiration for his political activism and the inspiration I drew from it.
Hip-Hop has always been the beat my soul gravitates to most, followed by singer-songwriter vibe. So when a hip-hop artist brings in actual instruments, guitars, saxophone, whatever, I swoon. I feel it all the way. I get down.
In my late-twenties, after nearly a decade chasing whitewater and being in some, umm, turbulent situations, I had both a back injury and an ear injury. My back took a year to heal. My ear never healed on it’s own, and from 28-39, I only had about 20% of my hearing. During that time, I didn’t have a full connection to music because I couldn’t hear much, but I could always hear/feel a good base hip-hop beat.
A couple years ago, the miracle of modern medicine was able to create an ear drum out of a tiny piece of skin from my arm. I now have super-human hearing and am brought to tears when I hear a good beat, production just right. When a saxophone wails, my entire being is enthralled. When a guitar string is plucked right, my soul flutters.
I am finding myself more and more around music, musicians. I crave it, seek it, celebrate and support it. With Skin and Sky, I chose to bypass social media marketing campaigns and instead, our small marketing budget goes directly to helping out artists. We’ve done everything from paying someone’s rent for a few months while they work on their music to supporting and sponsoring events in California and Montana like SheRocks, Jams with Laurel Canyon Music Room, Northern Hospitality Toronto Showcase, Jazz Ecelectic at Sofitel, etc.
We help with production for videos and photoshoots, we hire musicians to fill samples and for random odd-jobs that pay some bills…we’ve even had several musicians crash in our headquarters in between gigs. We do as much as we can. We definitely make sure their skin is luminous and resilient, support the soul + swagger. There’s a selfish reason for it: it keeps the vibes + beats alive and I get to be around it! I’m actually credited and appear in a few videos with MoeCheez and Nyzzy Nyce, am obsessed with Tiara Monet and have gotten to work with her on a few visions still evolving, co-wrote a song with HoneyCane, can't get enough of Vicky O'neon and just helped with production on video for #GiveMeTime with Emoney! Each time I get to be behind a scene of something, it nourishes my entire soul, and feels totally cool-kid!
(We sponsored one event with HollywoodLive/Rockin' with Stars and would never work with them again. They were unethical, super unprofessional and really lame to work with, which is a shame because that $2500 could've gone to something really worthy. Totally throwing some well-deserved shade...)
Anyways....I often share songs I’m listening to in SSB or my personal Instagram. When something is making me feel really good, I can’t help but share. I’ve shared a lot of Mr. Jean’s beats. I do have several public playlists (and think they're worthy!)
I’ve been using the hashtag #THANKGODFORTHECULTURE for awhile now, and I know most people didn’t know exactly what it referred to. There’s a song for that, and a story that speaks to my world. I came up with our main hashtag, #SKYKISSED, while listening to Wyclef’s version of Kiss The Sky, en route to Detroit!
Well, last night, the man not only reposted, but took a second to DM me to say thanks and have a quick back-and-forth while I had a total fan moment!
When I told a couple of my dearest musician peeps the story this morning, the badass D.O. Gibson and beat-dropper Oso Cali shared pics of times they’d worked with or met Wyclef, and all said what a rad dude he is in person. Talk about doing right by your place in life.
In a world of d-bags, be a 'Clef...That's one of my new sayings.
ON A WYCLEF ROLL playlist was on repeat today.
All Wyclef Jean. Not in any specific order. My favorites. Press Play and every now and then, get up and #getdown. If a song isn’t your particular vibe, skip it. I know there’s at least a few in there you’ll like. I mean, what other artist has collabs and covers across all the genres? From Paul Simon to Prince to Ms. Whitney Houston to Queen to Diddy…. To freakin' Kenny Rogers! Make this playlist part of your weekend vibes!
Cheers to an #artledeconomy and the #creativegrind. To #BeautyArtPartnerships, #PeoplePlacePlanetPartnerships. #makeitworthy #haveeachothersbacks and be part of a #mutualgroupiesociety! Yes, I have a lot of hashtags, cuz I love them, and many have been inspired by, or right-out taken from a lyric in a hip-hop song! #fortheloveofhiphop
Be #SkyKissed. #ProtectYourStrut. #SwaggerOn. You're an #IntelligentBadassBeauty. (Ha! Almost a full run-on sentence of hashtags.)
p.s. Mr. Jean, if you happen to read this, Cheers to you. Seriously. Thank you. May all the good forces be with you and yours. (and, umm, we have really great lotion. Like, the best. My art is lotion. Would love to send you some.)