Despite appearances, Wyclef Jean said he wasn’t “coming at” Lauryn Hill when he wrote in his new memoir that she lied to him about being pregnant with his child—a lie that led to the break-up of The Fugees, one of hip hop’s most important groups.
For the past 15 years, the many fans of the group wondered what happened between Wyclef and Lauryn that made it all fall apart, sending the three members on to solo careers. In “Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story,” Jean provides many answers. But in an interview with MTV he said his intent was not to hurt Hill or anyone else. He was just telling the truth.
“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.”
In the book, which hits the shelves today, Jean explains how Lauryn broke his heart.
“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.”
While he understood the reaction of fans upset that he would dredge up these ugly details so many years later, Wyclef said he had no choice.
“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.”
In the book, Jean recounts that Hill began dating the father of her children, Rohan Marley, during the period when she was still romantically involved with him.He 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. When the truth came out and it became clear that Marley was the father of Hill’s first son, Zion, things were never 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 the book, Jean said listening to Lauryn’s seminal solo album felt like he was reading a diary of their relationship.
“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.”
Asked whether it would have been possible for the group to keep going if Lauryn had been honest, Wyclef said quickly, “No, I don’t think so. 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.”