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Purpose Paperback – September 20, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“[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)

“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.” (—Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: ItBooks; First Edition edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006196686X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061966866
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Paxman on October 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Wyclef Jean is a great musician (I speak as a fan), but his inability to be honest about the failure of his Haitian charity Yéle is greatly disappointing. Yéle has effectively collapsed, yet Jean has the temerity to declare in his book: "Yéle is Haiti's greatest asset and ally." This is a tale told by an egotist, the latest in a long line of charismatic would-be saviors of Haiti, whose efforts have achieved little of lasting worth.

If you think I'm exaggerating, read "In Haiti, Little Can Be Found Of a Hip-Hop Artist's Charity," in the 12 Oct. edition of the New York Times: [...]

Here's a sample: "The forensic audit examined $3 million of the charity's 2005 to 2009 expenses and found $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Mr. Jean and other Yéle board and staff members as well as improper or potentially improper transactions. These included $24,000 for Mr. Jean's chauffeur services and $30,763 for a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a benefit in Chicago that raised only $66,000." And this was a lenient audit: these improper payments do not include the $100,000 that Jean paid himself to perform at a Yéle fundraiser.

There's a morality tale here, about what happens when a wealthy and talented popular hero, cocooned for years by public adulation, attempts a new calling for which he has neither professional preparation nor sufficient wisdom or humility. It's a great story, but for the people of Haiti a tragic one, and it will be left to someone else to tell it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amina Khan on May 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
Girl bled to death while she was tongue-kissing a razor blade;that sounds sick maybe one day I'll write a horror (Wyclef's lyrics and self-fulling prophecy from fugee la).
Lauryn hill is an amazing artist. I bought and read Wyclef's book because I wanted to know why Lauryn stopped making music and why the Fugees broke up. Reading between the lines and doing my math, I realized Wyclef met Lauryn in 1988 when she was 14 and he was 19. It is pretty evident that their relationship became sexual while L-boogie was still a child. In an old interview Lauryn described Clef and Pras as having two fathers, brothers and boyfriends 24-7. Lauryn was 22 when Zion was born. It is not surprising that her break-up with Wyclef took such a toll on her. He was her everything from the age of 14 till 22. And although Wyclef doesn't say it; but he may very well have been her very first love and lover.
Wyclef doesn't clearly explain why he married Claudinette in 1994, when he is head over heels in this hot and heavy relationship with Lauryn. One would think he would go with his muse and bread-maker. But then its clear he used his marriage as a way to control Lauryn and gain the upper hand in the relationship. He was from the projects making beats in his uncle's basement. Lauryn was making movies in LA, studying at Columbia University and the industry made no secret about their desire to see her as a solo artist. To all the ladies who have dated a married man, you know it is all about him and his schedule, leaving you at his beck and call. So he used his marriage to control Lauryn, making Lauryn desperate for him. Listen to her words on the Score: "ready or not here I come I am going to find you and make you want me". In the book Wyclef says she cried when she sang that song.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tellmeasecret on September 26, 2012
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I came into this book like many Fugee fans, needing closure. Why did the Fugees break up, was it Wyclef's ego, Lauryn Hill's pregnancy by another man? Was it the Source Magazine wanting Lauryn Hill to go solo? Was it the love triangle between Wyclef, his wife and Lauryn? F what everybody says about tell all books, I wanted Wyclef to write this book, to tell all. I--needed, closure and reading this book, hearing this audio gave that to me. Wyclef's Brother, Sam narrated the audio book and he sounds simular to Wyclef so it felt real, organic, like he was recounting a memory to friends and family members, listening I felt like family. The book opens with the earthquake that happened in Haiti and how Wyclef not just heard about it but went down there to help, lost friends there. Listening to this part reminded me of the 9/11 attack on the world trade center, all the death, all the helplessness, all the survivor guilt. This book takes you to that moment. Next Sam tells us of Wyclefs coming of age from Wyclefs point of view, being raised by his grandmother because his mother and father moved to America, being poor, not knowing English. His coming to America story is so inspirational. I loved hearing stories of his preacher father who had this guardian angel/ancestor following behind him as he protected his family from the thugs. They could see the protector but he couldnt, but those that posed a threat could. I believe in that. Listening to Sam tell the Wyclef and their family story reminded me of the movie The Color Purple when Oprah says, 'All My Life I Had To Fight'. Hearing how they had to fight american blacks because they were haitian reminded me of how racism even if you the same color bares its evil head. Halfway into the book, audio, The Score. Now I got to get closure.Read more ›
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