Purpose: An Immigrant's Story [NOOK Book]

Overview

Wyclef Jean is one of the most influential voices in hip-hop. He rocketed to fame in the 1990s with the Fugees, whose multiplatinum album, The Score, would prove a landmark in music history, winning two Grammys and going on to become one of the bestselling hip-hop albums of all time. In Purpose, Wyclef recounts his path to fame from his impoverished childhood in "Baby Doc" Duvalier's Haiti and the mean streets of Brooklyn and Newark to the bright lights of the world stage.

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Purpose: An Immigrant's Story

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Overview

Wyclef Jean is one of the most influential voices in hip-hop. He rocketed to fame in the 1990s with the Fugees, whose multiplatinum album, The Score, would prove a landmark in music history, winning two Grammys and going on to become one of the bestselling hip-hop albums of all time. In Purpose, Wyclef recounts his path to fame from his impoverished childhood in "Baby Doc" Duvalier's Haiti and the mean streets of Brooklyn and Newark to the bright lights of the world stage.

The son of a pastor and grandson of a Vodou priest, Wyclef was born and raised in the slums of Haiti, moving with his family to New York when he was nine. He lived in Brooklyn's notorious Marlboro projects until his father, Gesner Jean, took them to Newark, where he converted a burnt-out funeral home into a house for his family and a church for his congregation. But life in New Jersey was no easier for Wyclef, who found it hard to shake his refugee status. Forced to act as a literal and cultural translator for his parents while still trying to master English himself, Wyclef soon learned that fitting in would be a constant struggle. He made his way by competing in "freestyle" rap battles, eventually becoming the best MC in his school. At the same time, Wyclef was singing in his father's choir and learning multiple instruments while also avidly exploring funk, rock, reggae, and jazz—an experience that would forever shape his sound. When Wyclef chose to pursue a career in music over attending theological school, Gesner, who hated rap, nearly disowned him, creating a gulf between father and son that would take nearly a decade to bridge.

Within a few short years, Wyclef would catapult to international renown with the Fugees. In Purpose he details for the first time ever the inside story of the group: their rise and fall, and his relationships with Pras and Lauryn Hill.

Wyclef also looks back with candor at the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and his efforts to help rebuild his homeland, including the controversy surrounding Yéle, his aid organization, and his exploratory bid for president of the island nation. The story revealed in Purpose is one of inspiration, full of drama and humor, told in compelling detail, about the incredible life of one of our most revered musical icons.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…over and above a hip-hop story, Wyclef's is "an immigrant's story." That is what makes it a gem. This escapade-filled memoir—short on revelations or scintillating tone, but brimming with droll yarns—delivers a narrative that often gets short shrift in hip-hop historiography: a diasporic one. And considering how many hip-hop icons have Caribbean backgrounds—from Kool Herc and the Notorious B.I.G. (Jamaica) to Big Pun (Puerto Rico), Shyne (Belize) and Nicki Minaj (Trinidad)—that border-crossing narrative is vital to the music's roots and culture. Hip-hop is a classic American rags-to-riches saga, yes, but it's also a postcolonial immigrant story—as much Henry Roth as Horatio Alger…The book…fits the model of traditional American immigrant literature.
—Baz Dreisinger
Publishers Weekly
At first glance, award-winning hip-hop musician Jean’s memoir is just one in a long line of tales of a poverty-stricken youth climbing out of a hardscrabble life rung by rung on the ladder of music. Very quickly, however, Jean’s passion for music, his fierce love for his family and for Lauryn Hill, his partner in the Fugees, and his deep and abiding devotion to his native country, Haiti, forcefully reach out and grab the reader, who is soon rocking along to the rhythms and harmonies of a brilliant musician composing the score of his life. Jean conducts readers on a journey from his childhood in Haiti, where his preacher father auspiciously named his son after Bible translator John Wycliffe and musician Toussaint L’Ouverture, to his youth in New York and New Jersey, where in junior high Jean discovered his purpose in life though music. With his music, Jean hoped to bring people to a world where, at least for a while, everything was going to be okay and to make people feel good no matter what they were going through. Jean openly reveals the tensions and the intense love that he and Hill shared, and he candidly uncovers the gritty details of the Fugees’ multiplatinum success, The Score. Jean acts on his love and commitment to his homeland as he returns to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake to help as best he can to rebuild his country. In his memoir’s final refrain, Jean reminds us that he’s always tried to live with purpose, as if every day were the last. (Sept.)
Booklist
"[A] riveting memoir . . . Jean is candid in chronicling the drama of the music business and his heartfelt anguish for his homeland while struggling with success and commitment."
—Booklist
“[A] riveting memoir . . . Jean is candid in chronicling the drama of the music business and his heartfelt anguish for his homeland while struggling with success and commitment.”
—Booklist
“[A] riveting memoir . . . Jean is candid in chronicling the drama of the music business and his heartfelt anguish for his homeland while struggling with success and commitment.”
Library Journal
Haitian-born Jean, son of a pastor, grandson of a voodoo doctor, and recent candidate for president of Haiti, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and then Newark, NJ, where rap proved to be his path to success. Here's the story of his career, including his time with the multiplatinum and Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group the Fugees. Since Jean's followers number 1.6 million on Twitter, 300,000-plus on Facebook, and 200,000 on Myspace, there's clearly an audience for this book. With a 125,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
Reflective memoir from a breakout hip-hop star of the 1990s, served with a generous helping of braggadocio. Jean, who co-authored this book with prolific celebrity biographer Bozza (Why AC/DC Matters, 2009, etc.), has been in the public eye recently for his controversial efforts on behalf of his native Haiti, including an abortive run for the presidency. The narrative opens dramatically, with Jean's initial trip home after the devastating 2010 earthquake ("I had to help any way I could, not as Wyclef Jean, but as a Haitian"). Jean then looks back at his improbable journey from rural childhood to genre-defining triumph with the Fugees. As an adolescent, Jean left Haiti for New Jersey, where his strict father established himself as a fiery Nazarene preacher who regarded hip-hop as "bum music." Yet Jean's passion for musical expression developed early; he played in the church band to please his father, while making connections in the rapidly expanding universe of East Coast rap. By his early 20s, he'd joined fellow Haitian Pras Michel and two young women, forming the group that eventually became the Fugees. The author's greatest strength is his nostalgic discussion of the music scene of the '90s, when any success seemed possible, and his focus on the nitty-gritty of artistic development, as the Fugees moved from their run-down basement studio to sold-out stadium tours and platinum records. On the whole, though, the narrative is strangely paced: Jean intersperses humorous, self-deprecating anecdotes with repetitive storytelling and frequent assertions of his many accomplishments. The author awkwardly discusses the Fugees' dissolution at the height of success. Jean acknowledges his long extramarital affair with Lauryn Hill but seems to regard its destructive reverberations (including her virtual disappearance from the music industry) as inevitable, the product of their passion and artistry. Slick, unwieldy overview of Jean's stardom and humanitarian ambitions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062098979
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 71,740
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean is a multiplatinum Haitian musician and former member of the hip-hop trio the Fugees, as well as an actor and producer. Throughout his career, as a member of the Fugees, a collaborator with other musicians, and a solo artist, he has sold more than fifty million albums. He has worked with such artists as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, T.I., Mary J. Blige, and Destiny's Child.


Anthony Bozza is the author of four New York Times Bestsellers, including Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem, Slash, co-written with Slash and the #1 bestselling Too Fat to Fish, co-written with Artie Lange. Bozza was a staff writer and editor for Rolling Stone magazine for seven years, during which he profiled a diverse range of artists from Eminem and the Wu-Tang Clan to Trent Reznor and U2. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Invisible Man xiii

1 The Village 1

2 Garden State Promised Land 19

3 To the Beat of My Own Drum 77

4 Three Become One 121

5 The Score 155

6 Fugees on Fire 191

7 When the Circle Broke 211

8 Wycle for President 227

Conclusion 247

Acknowledgments 249

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