The Fugees, consisting of Lauryn Hill, Pras and Wyclef, had all the makings of a modern day Hip-Hop version of the Beatles. As an admitted fan of the Fugees I have to admit that interviewing Jean for the sake of interviewing him would have been fine by me. But this discussion had an obvious purpose. No matter what anyone’s personal opinion of him is, Jean has lead a pretty interesting life thus far.
In his newly released book titled “PURPOSE: An Immigrant’s Story,” he lets the public know just how interesting that life has been.
“I remember watching a Quincy Jones interview. He had done so much but felt like he didn’t do anything yet, know what I mean,” said Jean when asked why he’s releasing the book now. “For me, once I (passed) 40 and hit 42 years old, I decided there were 7 books that I wanted to drop to basically start breaking down these things that are like mysteries to the general public because everybody has their own opinion on the story. I wanted to make sure that the autobiography was very pure. A lot of the stuff that was said about me on social media …? I didn’t address it because i knew I had a book coming out. I knew the book would explain certain things, like Fugees and running for president and certain other things. This gives you an idea of where I come from and how I got to where I am.”
In researching for my interview with Jean I came across several quotes from the book that described the reason why Wyclef believes the Fugees broke up. Lauyrn allegedly lied to Clef regarding the paternity of her first child Zion, and all bets were off after that. I asked him why he felt Lauryn pulled the wool over his eyes.
“In that time period? It’s exactly as it says. I felt at that point the trust was broken. We just didn’t feel as inspired by one another as we did before,” he explained. “At the time, the age period of what we’re talking about, it was almost like adolescent love. It was something that she wished actually was, and I wished that it was. Then clearly looking me in my eyes and saying ‘Yes, it’s yours. Don’t worry about it. It’s all going to be okay’ then it took me actually seeing that it wasn’t.”
“If you were to ask me a question now as to why something is done, and I’m 42, it would be a different mindset in my evolution,” he continued. “Today it’s a different story but at the time, from my eyes and from my point of view, and I have to be blunt and real with you, what you want to hear and what it is are 2 different things.”
On Lauryn Hill’s solo offering ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ there are many selections with hidden messages that seem to be aimed Jean. Wyclef tells me that it was sometimes difficult listening to the public’s criticism when he knew what the real deal was.
“When I hear ‘Zion’ or ‘The Miseducation’ y’all are still like ‘Yo, half of that album is about Wyclef’. Like I was such a bad guy. ‘Why would he do that to her?’ Then Wyclef comes in and says ‘Hold on, two wrongs don’t make it right.’ This is my side of what happened when I was younger. Then, you turn around and say ‘No, why wouldn’t she tell him?’ I’m just telling you, at that age period, that’s how we felt at the time, you know.”
Despite all of the coverage the schism between Hill and Jean received in the media, very little attention was given to the third party in their love triangle. That individual is Marie Claudinette, Jean’s wife since 1994. I asked him how did he explain his affair with Lauryn to her.
“This is not, and understand what I’m saying here, this is not a murder rap. I didn’t kill anyone, right? I met my wife before I was singing, know what I mean? That clearly comes from something from when I was little, when I had these epiphanies and these feelings. I wanted someone that’s like a best friend. Straight up a best friend! If I want to grow old with that person then you look at those who statistically grow old together. She grew up watching her Dad and her Mom grow old together. At the end of the day, you just have to be clear and you have to be honest. If you’re wrong then you’ve got to be like ‘I was wrong and this is what I did.’ A lot of us know we’re wrong and we hide it. Even after we’re caught we would say ‘No, not me.’ You’re pulling some Shaggy stuff. Now, I’m not saying that. I’m saying ‘it was me and this is the age we were’. I was just young and dumb and we thought we were in love. On ‘The Carnival’ I have a song called ‘I’m In Love With Two Women’, this is basically me running that scenario when I was going through a hard time with my wife.”
“PURPOSE: An Immigrant’s Story” goes on sale today at bookstores across the nation. In the book Jean goes into greater details about his relationship with Ms. Hill as well as his recent attempt at presidential candidacy in Haiti back in 2010, and much more.
Because of space and time constraints we’re going to have to bring you part two of our discussion with Wyclef Jean later this week.