Nearly two months after Blaze editor Jesse Washington went public
with claims that Fugees rapper Wyclef Jean threatened him with a gun, fans
and artists continue to weigh in with their comments on the allegation.
But with an editorial in the just-published November issue of a competing
magazine, Rap Pages, and with related reactions, the debate seems to
be taking a new turn. Now the focus appears to be as much on how the
Blaze editor, as well as the editor of a competing rap publication, Rap Pages,
have handled discussion of the alleged incident as it is on whether Wyclef
pulled the gun.
The hip-hop star claimed, on MTV, that the incident never happened.
In the Los Angeles-based Rap Pages' editorial, executive editor Allen
Gordon -- while claiming Wyclef "didn't deny" having pulled the gun when he met with him -- discusses the ramifications of artists
threatening journalists and criticizes how Blaze handled the
allegation, claiming Washington exploited the incident to promote his
"Part of me wishes they'd just let it go," said Wyclef fan Diana Walker of
Newark, N.J., who was contacted through a Fugees fan site. "We'll probably
never know whether or not it really happened, so forget it, you know? But
seeing the editorial, I think the argument is more on the side that the
real issue has been ignored, that Blaze grabbed a hold of a serious
issue and used it to its advantage, rather than making a strong statement
about it. To me, the issue has become something more about integrity in the
hip-hop press than anything."
Blaze's Washington went public with the claim in an editorial in
that magazine's premiere issue, which hit stands in late August. He alerted the media
via a press release prior to the publication of that issue.
Washington claimed that the gun threat took place at Hit Factory Studios in
late July, during a meeting to discuss an unfavorable review of rapper
Canibus' album Can-I-Bus, which Wyclef produced. The review was
slated to run in Blaze's premiere issue but was pulled after the
alleged threat. Washington claimed that the only reason he went public with
the allegation was to explain to readers why the review didn't appear in
Soon after, Wyclef denied the incident on MTV, suggesting Washington had
made up the incident to sell magazines.
Since its release, Canibus's album is at #47 on the Billboard 200
albums chart, after debuting in the #2 spot. Wyclef, who is currently on a
college tour promoting his solo release The Carnival, recently told
SonicNet Music News that he was pleased with how Can-I-Bus
has fared so far. "We worked real hard on that record, so we're very happy
to see that it has reached so many people," he said while standing in the
crowd at the traveling Lyricist Lounge rap show in San Francisco. "It's
just like this show, concentrating on the lyrics and what's real."
Fellow rapper Kurupt, formerly of the Dogg Pound, recently spoke out about
the allegation and the rap media's handling of it. "If [the allegation] is
real, it's a problem," said the Dogg Pound member and solo artist. "If it's
not real, [Washington] needs to be fired. If it's not real, he's making a
mockery out of this game and he needs to be eliminated. If he's telling the
truth, the brother needs to post up and check himself."
"Wyclef isn't pulling no guns on nobody when he wants to make money,"
Kurupt added. "No disrespect to Blaze and no disrespect to (its
sister publication) Vibe, but I've got a big problem with people
making a mockery out of this hip-hop game."
In his Rap Pages editorial, Gordon claims that Wyclef indicated he
had made the threat during a impromptu meeting he'd had with the rapper at
an album-listening session for Canibus' record in August. Gordon
reached that conclusion after asking Wyclef four times about the incident;
the first three times Gordon asked Clef if he made the threat, the rapper
denied it, the editor said. On the fourth time, Wyclef shugged and nodded,
according to Gordon.
A spokesperson for Wyclef, who did not want to be named, called Gordon's
claim of an admission "ludicrous."
Gordon said he has yet to receive much response to his editorial, since the
November issue of Rap Pages has not hit most stands. "We aren't
really looking for a response," Gordon said Thursday. "We just wanted to
give something to our readers."
However, he said reactions from members of the industry to whom he faxed
the editorial have been complimentary about his taking a stand on the
larger issues involved.
Contacted Sept. 28, Washington had only one comment on Gordon's criticism of
the way Blaze dealt with the allegation against Wyclef. "I'm glad
other magazines want to write editorials on my editorial," he said from
Blaze's New York offices.
Meanwhile, Wyclef is putting together the score for the
forthcoming Eddie Murphy film "Life" as well as producing the upcoming
release by R&B legends Earth, Wind & Fire. "I'm just a young kid and these
are old legends," Wyclef said of working with the group.
The rapper was on the hip-hop heavy Smokin' Grooves tour when Washington
went public with the allegation against him. Rapper Sen Dog, who was on the
tour with his band Cypress Hill, said he never asked Wyclef about the
alleged incident because he figured "it was none of my business."
"But if that's true, if that's true, I would just say that I would never do
anything like that to anybody in the industry," Sen Dog said. "But at the same
time, you know, there's got to be some kind of reasoning behind it. He
seems to be a very level-headed young man, and I just don't see him being
the type to fly off the handle like that because that's a very serious
offense right there."
"If it's true, I guess he knew what he was doing," Sen Dog continued. "If
that's just a promotional story to get people talking about the new album
or something, good f---ing way to do it, you know? But I would never go