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Book Review: 'An Immigrant's Story: Purpose' by Wyclef Jean

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'An Immigrant's Story: Purpose' by Wyclef Jean


In radio interviews with Wyclef Jean, hosts tended to focus on the rapper's affair with Fugees member Lauryn Hill. But that was such a small part that has gotten too much coverage. It was also one of the least exciting parts of a surprisingly funny and thought-provoking memoir.

There were moments in this book when I was crying with laughter (ex. trying to get respect for his brother Dek while wearing a fur squirrel accessory [his mother's], a machete on his waist and throwing salt to scare a bully).

There were others when I shook my head (ex. Wyclef's persistence to have a Mexican wild goat as a mascot).

There were moments when I cringed (ex. Haitian Day at his high school when American students would beat up anyone who "looked" Haitian to them just because they were different).

Then there were instances that I learned more about hip-hop (ex. hearing about "Cowboy" and the cipher background with the Outsidaz). I put the book down and replayed Fugees songs (ex. "Killing Me Softly" to hear if Lauryn Hill sounded like she was crying and "Ready or Not" to imagine how the two of them created this song in a storage closet).

The book showcased a lot about Wyclef's early background with a group called Exact Change, Pras' role with the Fugees and the Fugees' fourth member, Marcy.

Music probably trumps politics for the average Wyclef fan, but one of the strongest parts in the book was about his affiliation with Yele Haiti and the presidential race. That could've lasted longer and included a photo of his friend, Jimmy O, after the way Wyclef described him.

Family wise, he talked more about his father than his mother, and judging from the challenges he had with Reverend Gesner Jean I can see why. From Wyclef's childhood beatings to his "Oscar winning performance" in church after he was kicked out of his father's home to Carnegie Hall, I went from being nervous about their relationship to relieved. It was all interesting even when it was horrifying.

But the one thing I just didn't want to read anymore about was the affairs. I was beyond tired of reading about him gushing over Lauryn Hill. I was surprised to find out how temperamental she was described in the book. I don't understand the logic in cheating so everything he was saying about why he did it for so long went over my head and made me wonder when these pages would be done and over with. Initially I thought, "Well, if he wrote a book about their relationship, she should, too." Now I think they both need to leave well enough alone and let the past be in the past.

Other than not enjoying his repeated infidelity and the Lauryn Hill segments, this was an excellent read.

Recommended Reading:

"Book Review: 'Manology' by Tyrese Gibson and Rev Run"

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.


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