The Washington Post

Wyclef Jean defends his Lauryn Hill kiss ’n’ tell

Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill in 2005, some years after the affair. (Chric Pizzello/AP)

In Jean’s new memoir, “Purpose,” and every interview promoting it, his relationship with the hip-hop diva — through the rise of the Fugees, and both before and during his marriage to another woman — is Topic A. Her luscious beauty (“love was bound to grow”), their explosive fights (she was a hitter, he says), the baby he thought was his (but wasn’t). Even the kinder critics are crying TMI.

This is what you gotta do to sell books, right? But in D.C. Thursday night for an onstage interview by NPR’s Michel Martin at Sixth & I Synagogue, Jean maintained that the sexy stuff doesn’t detract from the substance of his story: It is the substance.

Wyclef Jean and Michel Martin at Sixth and I Synagogue. (Bruce Guthrie)

Would the music have been as good if the affair hadn’t happened, Martin asked?

Not even, said Jean: “It. . . would have been impossible.” The disastrous fallout, the breakup of the band — simply “the price we had to pay.”

Later, he picked up his guitar, his voice as crackling and creamy as in his ’90s heyday. “No woman, no cry,” he sang.

(See a longer version of this story and more from Wyclef Jean’s Sixth and I Synagogue appearance at the Style Blog.)

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