After winning two Grammys and selling millions of records, Fugees’ #3 man, Pras, seems to have quietly disappeared from music and Hollywood. But fresh for November's election day, he returns with a new passion and focus on politics. Joining forces with President Obama’s top fundraiser, Frank White, Jr., Pras has become a partner in DuSable Capital Management LLC, a company working to raise $1 billion to save the planet through better use of renewable energy. Sharing his “green” government-aligned platform with The Shadow League, Pras shares thoughts on politics, ratchet music, and whether or not The Fugees will return.
RAQIYAH: So you’re dabbling in politics these days, working to save the Earth. Can you break down and explain what you’re doing in laymen’s terms?
PRAS: I’m basically part of a private equity fund that raised about a billion dollars and we are looking into renewable energy in our sector of the world, especially in the States. That means green, from solar to conserving energy. You making everything we do more cost efficient instead of wasting energy that costs a lot of money and cutting into people’s disposable income. So we just want to be more conscious about being green, especially when you look at what’s going on with this whole climate change. California 10 years ago in the winter time it was like 75 degrees. But now it’s down to like 40 degrees in the winter time. Those are things you can’t really argue. Or like New York, the middle of January is like 60 degrees. By being more eco friendly we can probably try to help contain mother nature and all of the things that is not good for the planet, pollution and all that.
RM: Interesting. What are your day-to-day duties with this initiative?
PRAS: I’m a partner, but it’s more like as opportunities come, I bring it to the attention, I put my little two-cents in. Obviously, the core decision-making is not me, because I’m still looked as, ‘Well, you’re that hip-hop guy.’ But I’m that hip-hop guy who’s probably a little bit more knowledgeable in certain areas and has showed a level of interest. I’m just happy to be on, to be honest with you. It’s a great learning experience. I contribute whatever I can, it doesn’t stop my day job, which is still entertainment.
RM: Right. So that means you’re still making music? You’re still acting?
PRAS: Oh, most definitely. That’s in my DNA. I’m working on some stuff.
RM: Ok, but this is new. Politics. Fundraising and lobbying in a way. Whenever we decide to do something new, there’s always a defining moment like an epiphany or an “a-hah!” What were you doing when you said, ‘You know what? This is it, I really need to be involved in the green movement, and politics, and be dedicated and passionate?’
PRAS: I don’t know that I had that “a-hah!” moment. I think it’s been brewing for years. My peers, they’re into sports apparel, clothing, beverages, vodka, or entertainment. Those are things that don’t really interest me. I respect it but, I don’t get excited about that. I’m more excited about finding a way we can help to conserve the planet. But not in a corny way like, ‘Hey, be green!’ People will tell you, when you come to my home, I’m recycling everything. And I get pissed off when people don’t. You know how they say you attract what you are? If you’re a thief you’re going to attract a bunch of robbers and criminals. If you’re a pastor, you’re going to attract nuns and monks. So what I am, I’ve been attracted by it. It just happened organically, no pun intended.
RM: Funny. Is this your first foray into politics?
PRAS: Well I’ve been in politics really my whole life. I think the first thing that amazed me when I started studying politics is studying the history of my father’s country, Haiti. Being the first black republic, it was the second independent country in the western hemisphere behind America in 1804. I am fascinated by history. Whether it be Lincoln freeing the slaves in 1865, Woodrow Wilson going into World War I, to Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Bill in 1968, women being allowed to vote in 1920. Those things, those are defining moments in our history and our world’s history, I always found them very fascinating. And I have family that’s been in South American and Haitian politics.
RM: Wow. What part?
PRAS: Yea. Like on the intelligence side. So I’ve always had one eye, one foot in and one foot in my entertainment world obviously. The Fugees, we were socially conscious anyway. We didn’t go deep politically, but you could tell that we were very socially motivated and conscious about what was happening around us.
RM: Wait, you mentioned you studied. Where did you go to college?
PRAS: I went to Yale and Rutgers.
RM: You went to Yale?
PRAS: Unfortunately, I dropped out because I wanted to do the Fugees.
RM: How long were you there?
PRAS: I was there for about a year and a half studying psychology and philosophy.
RM: So if you got into Yale, that means in high school you were pretty bright. Were you 4.0 or valedictorian? Where were you in class rank?
PRAS: I wasn’t that bright. But, you know, I was okay.
RM: That’s really good. So do you see yourself ever running for office?
PRAS: Oh, I definitely have no political ambitions. I’m not just saying that because I’m waiting to get my team together to explore my possibility of running. No. I’m a Renaissance man. I don’t believe in parties or anything like that. I believe in individuals. For example, I support my President 100 percent. Supported him from day one. Just as we’re doing a documentary on the president of Haiti, at that time I supported him. I support causes. Like what my friend Sean Penn is doing in Haiti. I may not agree with the whole charitable system, how these certain organizations take the money and only a couple cents get to the end user. But I still believe in individuals. So I don’t let the system waiver me from believing in individuals that can still make a difference. But as far as me being a politician? Never. Because I’m too progressive, so nobody would ever elect me.
RM: You might be right. There’s more freedom to say what you want by not being a politician.
PRAS: There’s more freedom and I think I could do more.
RM: I was watching Dave Chappelle’s Block Party on Showtime recently, and the Fugees surprised everyone with a reunion performance. I watched it all these years later, saying, ‘I wish the Fugees would come back. I miss the Fugees.’
PRAS: I tell people this every day: You always have to be grateful and thankful when certain things happen to you in life. And that’s one of those moments. It’s like to see sixteen, seventeen years later people still are like, ‘Man I wish they would come back together!’ And it’s a great feeling. Due to logistics we don’t know how that would work, but still. It’s a great feeling to hear people still resonate with that.
RM: So what needs to happen for The Fugees to come back? You said, “logistically” it wouldn’t work. What does that mean? Could there ever be a Fugees album?
PRAS: I don’t know. I would say this to you. We as people think we have what we want, what we think we have planned out or what we would like things to be, but at the end of the day there’s a higher force that has His own plans. I’m just a conduit of what he’s trying to get out there. So I can sit here and say logistically it’s complicated, but He might say, ‘Listen boys, there ain’t no logistics when it comes to me.’ So I can’t say it won’t ever happen, but I just know right now everybody’s doing their own thing. I’m working on what I’m working on. And Wyclef is doing his thing. Lauryn Hill is doing her thing. She just got back out [of jail] and she’s trying to get back on track, so... But anything could happen! Listen, the Dave Chappelle show happened just because Dave was like, I wanna see you guys together. So he called Lauryn first and Lauryn called Clef. Clef called me, I was in Africa, and he was like, ‘Yo, let’s get this thing poppin.' While we were all fans of Dave Chappelle. So anything can happen.
RM: Do you listen to hip-hop today? What do you think of it?
PRAS: I listen to everything. And you know, I’m going to be honest with you, I can’t lie. As [much of a] renaissance man I may think I am, as much as I may travel to Middle East and Africa, Asia, South America. I like that ratchet shit! Excuse my French. That shit feel good sometimes, man. I can’t lie to you.
RM: That’s the rapper in you.
PRAS: Yo, I love it! I be in the clubs and I hear it, I get amped! Man, listen, I like it. Now, what I do also believe, is there should be somewhat of a balance. Ratchet is cool, but we need something to counter that. You know what I’m saying? And I think there’s not that much of it out there to counter. But I listen to hip-hop I look at Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, Drake. People still doing their thing. So sometimes I hear these rappers, like these older rappers, and they be like, ‘Man hip-hop is dead.’ I mean, how is it dead? Is it dead because you not involved in it anymore? I mean, it’s still alive and kicking. As a matter of fact, it’s more prominent now than it was when we were out there. Now is the quality different? Well yea, one can make that argument. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, we don’t have that in this era. But there’s still some great pop artists out there. They may not be Freddy Mercury, it may not be, Whitney Houston’s and Dionne Warwick of our day. But Miguel is still dope.
RM: So when it’s all said and done, and you look back, where do you want to be?
PRAS: I just want to be able to… You see how you say you were watching Dave Chappelle’s Block Party? That was [done] like 9 years ago.
RM: I know…
PRAS: So for you to say, ‘Man I wish the Fugees would get back together,’ you know, obviously it’s not a group that just did some lollipop song. That means that what we did and what we were saying, for you, had such an impact that you wish based on what you seen that’s going on right now, you wish they’d come back together and do something. That’s the kind of impact I want to leave. I wanna feel like this guy came in, he helped to inspire generations of people, tried to help people, tried to make good products, good entertainment, good business decisions, and inspire other people to understand like there’s more than just sitting around your hood and blaming the next man. Listen, I came from a very humbling background. My parents were from Haiti. Mom was a nurse, my dad drove a car, worked in the factory. But in my mind, it’s like, ‘I’m going to do something, I’m going to try to help a nation of people. Inspire nations of people. First being Haitians, my people, then people around the globe that love the Fugees. Or love what Pras did, or Lauryn or Wyclef.’ That’s what I want to do. Help people.