Wyclef Jean wants you to know that he’s not the person behind the breakup of the Fugees or the reason why Lauryn Hill is now viewed as a little…odd. But he does share in his own words the story behind the group and the affair that contributed to its downfall. In his autobiography “Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story” co-written with Anthony Bozza, Jean talks about his difficult relationship with his minister father, moving from Haiti to the U.S. with little English and less knowledge of the challenges of being an immigrant in northern New Jersey and how he started making secular music which led to an estrangement from his father. Jean also writes powerfully about his trip to Haiti to help his country after the earthquake in 2010 and his attempts to raise money through his charity Yele. Those attempts went wrong when the charity was investigated after some business and recordkeeping problems surfaced and Jean addresses that, too. But that’s not what you want to know. You want to know about Lauryn, his wife, the Fugees demise and reports of his womanizing. Here are a few juicy excerpts.
ON LAURYN: “She and I started out in a friendship that was beautiful, and over time, it developed into a deep romance. And since it didn’t work out – and it tore her up emotionally – a lot of people have blamed me for Lauryn’s emotional instability and artistic inconsistency afterward. It’s sad but true, she’s not been herself as an artist in the years since “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” No one is more upset about that than I am. I mean it; I am her biggest fan and I always will be.
ON BEING TORN BETWEEN LAURYN AND HIS WIFE: “I was in love with both of them. I was torn between the impossible love affair, the whirlwind artist romance and the solid, good woman who demanded respect. The solid woman had her passion, too. So my life became crazy because I was in the middle and each of them was passionate about me in different ways. One side was all bound up with music and discovery and my own self-expression. The other side was all about intellect and wisdom and helping me to mature. I did not know what to do; I just knew I had to do something. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It wasn’t clean and simple.
ON WHAT FINALLY CAUSED THE BREAK WITH LAURYN: “When Lauryn gave birth, I learned the truth: the child wasn’t mine, it was Rohan Marley’s. And in that moment something died between us. I was married and Lauryn and I were having an affair, but she had led me to believe that the baby was mine, and I couldn’t forgive that. This killed our trust in my mind and it caused us to start drifting apart.”
ON INFIDELITY: “I have not been faithful, many times over, but my wife and I have always found a way to work it out. In the eyes of the world, and on the Internet message boards, people are always asking “Why the hell does she stay with him?”
ON HIS AFFAIR WITH HIS FORMER MANAGER: “In those years after my father died, like I said, I made many mistakes. The worst of them was to get into a relationship with the woman who was my manager at the time. That affair damaged everything: my career, my family, my creativity, and my professional reputation. I had been unfaithful before – and I’m not just talking about being with Lauryn – but this relationship was a tremendous blow to my wife because it was so publicly in her face.”
ON HIS WIFE, CLAUDINETTE: “People can say what they want but what they will never understand is how deep the love between me and Claudinette runs. As much as I’ve ever wilded out, whenever she has said she’s going to to leave me, I’ve done whatever it takes to keep that from happening. If she left me, I’d lose my best friend in the whole world, and the only person who has been with me since the beginning…We can do this until the end of our days. I know this.”