There have been so many interviews and articles I’m compiling the most insightful in this one post.
Wyclef Jean talks about Haiti and his affair with Lauryn Hill at Sixth and I Synagogue
By Megan Buerger for The Washington Post
Wyclef Jean doesn’t speak in the same smooth flow with which he raps. He chooses his words carefully and spits them out slowly, like he’s learned the hard way the weight they can bear.
It’s a different version of the Haitian-American man who rose to fame in the mid-1990s with the legendary hip-hop trio the Fugees. Now 42, he’s older, wiser and a little less cocksure. On Thursday, he sat down with NPR’s Michel Martin at Sixth & I Synagogue to talk about why.
Many of the reasons are outlined in “Purpose,” Jean’s new memoir that caused a bit of a stir when it hit shelves on Tuesday. In it, he delves deeply into his fiery affair with fellow Fugee Lauryn Hill that occurred while he was married. (He’s still married.)
Early reviews have criticized the book for relying too heavily on his relationship with Hill, but Jean is unapologetic. The way he sees it, this was a chance to tell his story right, “before someone else could tell it wrong.” He explains his distant relationship with his father, a pastor who saw rap as the “devil’s music” and kicked Jean out of the house when he was a teenager. He sheds light on his still-broken ties with Pras Michel, the third Fugee, who blames Jean for the group’s collapse.
And then there’s Haiti, which is where things really get complicated. In January 2010, a few days after the devastating earthquake, Jean came under fire for reports of mismanagement with his charity, Yele Haiti Foundation. Later that year, his Haitian presidential bid was rejected because of residence requirements in the country’s constitution. Death threats soon followed and Jean went into hiding, but always maintained that the foundation’s books are transparent.
Thursday, though, he seemed to have moved past all that. Although he said he’ll continue to fiercely support Haiti (a cause he championed long before the quake), it won’t be through political office. He confirmed that a solo album is in the works, but a Fugees reunion is unlikely. And while he admitted he had a serious love for Hill, it was fleeting; fame, money and a child that turned out not to be his, but Rohan Marley’s (son of Bob), separated the two — and killed the Fugees — for good.
But everything’s going to be all right, he said. He has a “truer love” with his wife, Claudinette, and calls himself a reformed man.
Martin pressed him: Would the music have been as good if the affair hadn’t happened?
No, he said in his own roundabout way. “It … would have been impossible.”
This is why Hill is such a critical piece of Jean’s puzzle, and why her space in “Purpose” is justified. He largely credits the success of “The Score” — the Fugees’ 1997 album that sold 17 million copies — to the spell he and Hill were under while recording it. The disastrous end result was simply “the price we had to pay,” he said.
A few minutes later, Martin left the stage and Jean picked up his guitar. His voice, as crackling and creamy and pure as it was two decades ago, slid into the microphone like warm wine.
“No woman, no cry,” he sang.
For the original report go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/wyclef-jean-talks-about-haiti-and-his-affair-with-lauryn-hill-at-sixth-and-i-synagogue/2012/09/21/2ed6956a-040e-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_blog.html
Wyclef Jean’s new memoir “Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story.”
By Suzanne Rust for The Grio
The evolution of artist Wyclef Jean is anything but a typical immigrant’s tale. How does a kid from the small Haitian village of Croix-des-Bouquets grow up to become a celebrated hip-hop artist and activist? Who best to break it down, warts and all, but the man himself? TheGrio sat down with the master storyteller of his own life as Wyclef Jean revealed what Fugees fans and black book enthusiasts can expect from Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story, his new memoir.
theGrio: What inspired you to write Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story now? Wyclef Jean: I felt that I was important that history document the true story, firsthand. I wanted the book to be like a conversation, and it was important to tell it in the raw sense, because — the thing about me? I’m not trying to be popular; I’m a refugee. My first album was Blunted on Reality, so being honest and blunt is always the way to be, as far as I’m concerned. If I make a mistake, I make a mistake.
You moved to America when you were around nine, but your earliest years were spent in Haiti. The diversity of these two worlds is so much a part of Wyclef Jean. Yours is a true immigrant’s story, and the heart of Purpose. Can you paint a picture of your experience for us? Well, if you look at the film Slumdog Millionaire, that’s the best analogy. That was my slum. So I had culture shock; to come from that kind of world to America with all of these bright lights! I went from oil lamps and candles to electricity. There were hundreds of people walking around and talking, and can you image what it was like getting on the train for the first time in America? I was also shocked to see how people here took fresh water for granted; not in Haiti.
You write that you were hurt and surprised by the division between the black American kids and the Haitian kids when you were in high school. The American kids were very cruel, very brutal, but you found a way to bridge the gap through rap. You learned how to do it, despite the fact that English wasn’t your first language, and then got really good at it. Tell us about that experience and its significance. What was it like to hit that mark? It felt good! There is always that fence around you when you come from somewhere else; you want to be accepted. Then you add to that the language barrier and you feel like you can’t do anything. Hip-hop allowed us to bridge the gap. It was the only place where language didn’t matter, and it didn’t matter that I was Haitian. As long as you do it good, they were willing to accept it! Hip-hop was a universal language, not just the rapping, but the graffiti, the dance, the whole culture, etc. It made you feel as if you were part of a positive gang, you know what I mean?
Yes, well music has always been a part of your life. You write that your parents bought a series of “Muppet Show” instruments for you and your siblings to play with. You even refer to your family as the “Haitian-American Partridge Family,” and along the way you learned to play multiple instruments. Your father was a preacher and only allowed church music in the house, but you found a way to sneak other types of music into your act, like rock, funk, reggae, and country; you also played with a jazz band at school; then, soon after, you learned how to mix and record demos. You really did it all. Tell us more about your musical evolution and where it brought you.
Well, coming from Haiti at the age of nine, and then becoming the leader of jazz band by the time I was 15 or 16 was quite an accomplishment, considering I didn’t learn to read sheet music until I was about 13 or 14. Think about how fast I picked up on the jazz, or how I picked up on the hip-hop, or I picked up on the church music. I just wanted to learn it all, you know? Every time that I was doing it, it felt like an escape. Music for me always feels like a safe haven from everything.
The chapters in the book where you discuss your time with the Fugees sound like a mystical time. Share a little of the magic with us. Take us on a ride. I think for me, I just broke it down, you know, because at the end of the day I’m hearing some critics say, “Yo, he went too deep in the book, he was too raw” — but, if you are a Fugees fan, then you already know how I am. You wouldn’t want me to tell you the story of the The Score any other way than how it really was, and I think for me it was still a magical time, because there was an undertone going on while the music was going on. That undertone had passion in it, it had seduction in it, it had love, it had lust, it had betrayal, it had politics, you know what I mean? So now when someone is listening to The Score now, they can say, “Oh, now I see that what the mystique of the undertone was. It has a current that I’m feeling.” It’s the undertone of life, and that was the undertone of The Score for me.
Your love life could only be categorized as complicated; while you were with your girlfriend Claudinette, who eventually became your wife, you were carrying on a tumultuous romance with your muse, Lauryn Hill. Hill became pregnant, and during the pregnancy you say that she lead you to believe that the child was yours, when all along she knew that Rohan Marley was the father. You say that after the betrayal, “Our love spell was broken.” It seemed to break the spell for the Fugees as well. Can you comment on both of these topics? I mean, what I did was just try to declare the truth, and I go into to the details. I mean, any guy who is reading this, when I say I was sweating, they know what I mean. Like I’m in a car, and I feel like my body is heating up, you know? They understand what I’m saying. At the end of the day, it was sort of like a triangle of a relationship, where there is a man in the middle, one woman on the right that’s a wife, and the other one is that’s a girlfriend. It doesn’t end well at the end, you know? And that’s basically what I’m saying, and at the same time, there was work that still had to be done. So how do I balance it out where I can get the work done and still keep my marriage, and still get Lauryn into the studio to rock and do what she had to do. I t was not an easy thing, but it had to be done.
What I’ve learned, and this is just from the first memoir — I plan on writing seven books — what I’ve learned is… what I’m going to say, like… try to understand. Every action brings a reaction, right? So sometimes we cry, because some of us sacrifice ourselves to go to wars and because of those wars, we lose men, but then, at the end of the day, if we didn’t fight for what we believed in, we wouldn’t be here today, so what I mean by that is action brings reaction.
I can’t regret anything that I’ve ever been through, because if I hadn’t gone through it, I wouldn’t be who I am today, a full-blown man. What I went through with Lauryn, what I went through with my wife, with my father, and even what I went through when I brought that goat on stage (laughs), even though everyone thought I was crazy[editor’s note: Jean brought a goat on stage as a mascot for one of the Fugees early stage appearances], and running for president of Haiti and not getting accepted, I don’t regret any of it.
Maybe the question is, if I had the ability to change things, like be able to do something different, if I had the power to do it personally, yes, I’d take it. I would never want to scorn two women like that again.
Your late father, Gesner Jean, was a dynamic man. The strong willed and charismatic pastor, who you write, “wasn’t the kind of leader who failed.” He did not, under any circumstances, want you to be a rap artist. When he saw the direction you were going in, which was not theological school, he basically disowned you. It took a decade for you two to reconcile. Prior to that time, it seems that your father was oblivious to your success. As famous as you are, how did it feel to have to wait so long for parental praise. Well, he knew what I was doing, but he didn’t want any part of it… you know?
Yet, he called you at one point, after one of his co-workers told him that he looked like this famous rapper, Wyclef Jean! He called and asked, “What is it that you do exactly?” His undertone was like — I don’t want to know anything that you are doing. Meaning, like, he wasn’t going to concerts, or listening to the radio; this guy was in church, every day! So until that dude was like, “Yo, Gesner you look like that guy from the Fugees, but if that was your son, you wouldn’t be working here.” That was when my dad called me up and said, “what do you do for a living?” I said, ‘The same thing I told you I was going to do for a living! I’m a hip-hop star!”
He was like, “What is that? What’s that?” (Laughs.)
Did your mom know? Mothers always know. Yes, my mama, she knew, but keep in mind, they are not watching the TV, they are not listening to the radio, so they are not in that world; they don’t have a clue. Church music was all they listened to.
Did it hurt that it took your father so long to come around? Oh yeah, of course. What do all kids want? We always want the acceptance of our parents.
From the very start of your career, you have been a strong advocate for Haiti, and you put words into action by establishing Yele Haiti, a grassroots, non-political charity, in 2005. You then spent a lot of time clearing your name when Yele Haiti was accused of holding on to funds meant for earthquake victims back in 2010. Yele Haiti has since been cleared of these charges — but what did you take away from that experience? Well, we did great work, beginning with scholarships for kids. This started in 2005 and I grew from that. Now I’m working with the president as an ambassador, and will continue to work with all different people. In the end, all I know is as long as you keep doing good work, and pursue it, you will always rise to the occasion, just keep true and keep pushing.
Public perception is a motherf***er. When I look back at my career, I feel so fortunate. I know some of my peers in this business who have killed themselves, because of what the media has said about them; the media has destroyed artists. People can say harsh things. I give a lot of credit to my strong mother and father, you know what I mean? I think they helped a lot.
Yes, you’ve probably got thicker skin than many. What about your run for president of Haiti? In retrospect, would you do it again? Well, I don’t know what the future will bring, but I’ll tell you this: 80 percent of the population is living on less than two dollars a day. I feel like with the current president right now, he has started something, which is important: a strong focus on education. It can’t turn around in four years, maybe not even in eight, but I feel like he’s going in the right direction. I hope that what I did during my run inspired different types of leaders, young leaders, to run for president. I ran because of the urgency, and I felt at that time I was the best person to be commander in chief of my country. But we now have a commander in chief; I don’t know what history will tell.
You kind of tease us towards the end of your book. When it comes to a Fugees reunion you say “I never say never, but I don’t think we’ll be able to get the Fugees back together. I’d like to, but I think the magic is done once and for all.” Should that little line, “never say never,” leave us with a glimmer of hope? If the Fugees every got together, it would be some big deal! People would be like, “I’m definitely going to pick up that CD and see what they are talking about!” (Laughs.)
Wyclef, we are always looking forward to your next move, because we know it’s going to be something interesting. What have you got coming up? (Laughs.) It’s like “Yo, what the f**k is he up to now?” Right now I am working with some artists on my new label, All Hands On Deck, and I’ve got some great new people coming out. And I think I’m ready for a new Wyclef album. I started working on it, and I don’t know what it’s going to be titled, but it’s time. I think it’s time, I feel it. Musically I want to have fun again, do some touring and catch a vibe again, so I’m going for a new album.
[OPINION] AS THE SINGER AIRS OUT DIRTY LAUNDRY ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH LAURYN HILL, JAMILAH LEMIEUX LAMENTS THE ‘RIGHTS’ AND ‘WRONGS’ OF THE TELL-ALL BOOK IN THIS ARTICLE FOR EBONY.
I recently finished reading Wyclef Jean’s autobiography, Purpose, an interesting read to say the least. Like most folks, what struck me most about the well-written, soul-baring autobiography is the singer’s need to make a reveal about former lover and bandmate Lauryn Hill’s first child.
The Wyclef/Lauryn affair news is not hardly new. What most fans didn’t know, however, is that Jean (allegedly) believed that Hill’s son Zion was his and, upon discovering that he was the child of Rohan Marley, the singer was devastated and heartbroken…which led to the demise of the Fugees.
Jean’s is certainly a life story worth telling—rising from the slums of Haiti, struggling in the ghettoes of New Jersey and Brooklyn and then becoming a multi-platinum recording artist/producer. Despite a number of commercial and critical disappointments, he is a remarkably talented individual with an enviable catalogue that includes a few modern-day classics. Hell, he ran for president of a country when most of his former musical peers are trying to get signed to Young Money or mentioned on a gossip blog (which says a lot about, well, a lot, but we’ll focus on that some other time.)
So why, in 2012, do we need to know the low down on this nearly-two-decades-ago affair, especially considering that the child in question is now old enough to watch the reveal play out on Twitter?
Jean has stated in interviews that she would likely want him to be honest about the relationship because she is so honest herself, honesty and full disclosure are not the same thing. Would this have been a true autobiography had he not included that one anecdote? I say ‘yes.’ He could have described the great love that allegedly inspired both The Score and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill without bringing up the (alleged) paternity issue. He even could have admitted that Hill “broke his heart,” as he claims, without throwing her all the way under the bus. Especially considering where everyone’s favorite female emcee is today.
Hill has been the subject of great speculation, scrutiny and even worry after displaying some erratic behavior, treating loyal fans with various levels of disregard (ranging from being rude at concerts and failing to release new music, the latter which has drawn disdain that makes me wonder if L. Boogie stans think they own her) and after having six children in an era in which most pop stars don’t risk their waistlines to have even one. Her relationship with Marley is certainly the stuff gossip blogs survive on: a whole bunch of kids, questions over why they never married (because most Black folks get married, right?), allegations of infidelity and then his shocking and now-cancelled engagement to a young White Brazillan woman. If that was not enough to make a sane woman go mad and a mad woman go madder, Hill is also facing federal prison time for tax evasion. Does she need this right now?
Some say that if you ever truly loved someone, you’ll always have love for them, even if the romantic feelings have passed. And even if the love feels absent, one would imagine that you should always have some care or compassion for the well-being of someone who you loved. Throughout the passages which deal with the Hill relationship, which began just as Jean was “falling in love” with his wife Claudinette, the singer maintains that he truly loved his former bandmate, former “muse.” It doesn’t feel loving or caring to hear him on The Wendy Williams Show explaining that he knew Zion wasn’t his because he was a “yellow” baby.
Perhaps everything Jean is saying is true. Perhaps she manipulated him, broke his heart and smudged his Pumas on her way out the door. As the old saying goes “there’s no honor amongst thieves.” He was attached to another woman, Hill knew of this and his own admission, the infidelity was wrong. You can’t shade someone for not being a good mistress; there’s no such thing. While I acknowledge that these two people have lived history and that their relationship, due to its musical fruits, is one that has impacted the lives of people who they will never know, does that mean that all bets are off regarding discretion, privacy and personal details?
I’m not one of the Lauryn Hill fans who has canonized the singer because she released a few records I that I love and because she has natural hair and is ‘positive.’ I think that any woman would deserve the consideration Jean didn’t give her when spilling this piece of information, especially considering where she’s at right now: the mother of a newborn and potentially headed to prison.
Many a noteworthy person has written a tell-all that aired out friends, foes and the unfortunate souls who manage to fall somewhere in between. It just seems that the time for Jean to strike with these allegations would be in response to comments from Hill that point to him as the ‘bad guy’ in your affair or paint things in a way that he found to be dishonest. Or perhaps better yet, when both parties are in the sunset of their lives, decades removed from the relationship. When all involved children are full-grown adults with regrets of their own. Wyclef Jean certainly has a right to his truth and his story; it just feels like this reveal is both too soon and too late at the same time.
Honestly, some things are simply better left unsaid.
For the original report go to http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/why-clef-733