Fifteen years after the Fugees parted ways to pursue solo endeavors, Wyclef Jean is shedding light on key events that led to the group’s demise in his new memoir — most notably, the dissolution of his romantic relationship with Lauryn Hill.
“Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story” gives fans a candid and firsthand account of his romance with Hill, revealing that her first pregnancy and the lies surrounding it irreparably severed their bond.
“I was married and Lauryn and I were having an affair, but she led me to believe that the baby was mine, and I couldn’t forgive that,” an excerpt from the book reads. “She could no longer be my muse. Our love spell was broken.” Although fans have known for years that Hill and Jean were romantically involved during their time together as the Fugees, “Purpose” fills in the details that were previously unknown.
The excerpt found its way to the Internet one day before the book officially hit shelves Tuesday (September 18) and caused a stir among fans. Still, Wyclef said it was crucial for him to tell the whole story. “Autobiography means that I’m gonna give it to you, and I’m gonna spit to you the year and the era of what it was,” he explained. “Throughout the years, there’s always been different things that’s been said, and I just went into deep detail for y’all.”
The Haitian-born musician weaves a vivid tale for his readers, revealing that Hill began dating the father of her children, Rohan Marley, during the period when she was still romantically involved with ’Clef. In the book, Wyclef admits that he was jealous of Hill’s new relationship, despite having his own marriage, but when she became pregnant, he was led to believe that he was the father of her son. Eventually, the truth surfaced, however, and when it became clear that Marley was the father of Hill’s first son, Zion, things were never quite the same.
“When [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill] came out, y’all was mad at me,” he said, referencing songs like “Ex-Factor,” which were written about him and their relationship. “All the girls was like, ’Oh, we can’t believe Wyclef broke Lauryn Hill’s heart.’ ” In his memoir, ’Clef admits that listening to the album felt like he was reading a diary of their relationship, but he still needed to tell his story.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right, so I accepted my wrong for that period and being an adolescent, being kind of cocky … but at the same time, past me, there’s gonna be more people with more groups. There’s gonna be another Fugees being created … there’s gonna be another person that’s gonna be like, ’I wanna be Lauryn Hill.’ [But] when they read the autobiography, they’ll be like, ’Ah, man, girl, you do look fine, but going by this biography, I can’t kick it to you. Let’s just do this group and make things work.’
“It’s important because at the end of the day, I’m not coming at L,” he said, dismissing any notion that he’s attacking her. “This is a period of my life, and that’s how I felt. If anything, I just brought closure to a chapter — because at the end of the day, I didn’t do Miseducation, so there was no closure in my chapter, but I kept writing and writing. It was important just to be honest. I’m not known to sugarcoat, so it’s either yes or no. And for [someone] picking up something and reading it, I don’t think that I should’ve left it as a myth. Because even if I said it or she said, history is gonna say what it is.”
Is it possible, then, that if Lauryn Hill had been honest about her pregnancy, the Fugees could’ve had a longer run as a group? “No, I don’t think so,” Wyclef said without hesitating. “I think that what happens is, things are created and sometimes they dissolve. I think there was a lot of stuff going on. If you’re married and you’re in a love triangle with a person in your group, it’s only gonna last but so long. Something’s gonna explode. So if it wasn’t the baby, something else would’ve happened, and it would’ve exploded in different ways.”
Although the new details of Wyclef and Lauryn Hill’s relationship might come as a shock to some fans, he said the story could’ve been about 3,000 pages long if he’d had his way, but he doesn’t believe that any of it will upset his former group member. “If she was reading my book, I don’t think she would want me to be any other way than honest with my book,” he said. “Because she’s straight-up honest.”
“Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story” is in bookstores now.