I recently finished reading Wyclef Jean's autobiography, Purpose, an interesting read to say the least. Like most folks, what struck me most about the well-written, soul-baring autobiography is the singer's need to make a reveal about former lover and bandmate Lauryn Hill's first child.
The Wyclef/Lauryn affair news is not hardly new. What most fans didn't know, however, is that Jean (allegedly) believed that Hill's son Zion was his and, upon discovering that he was the child of Rohan Marley, the singer was devastated and heartbroken…which led to the demise of the Fugees.
Jean's is certainly a life story worth telling—rising from the slums of Haiti, struggling in the ghettoes of New Jersey and Brooklyn and then becoming a multi-platinum recording artist/producer. Despite a number of commercial and critical disappointments, he is a remarkably talented individual with an enviable catalogue that includes a few modern-day classics. Hell, he ran for president of a country when most of his former musical peers are trying to get signed to Young Money or mentioned on a gossip blog (which says a lot about, well, a lot, but we'll focus on that some other time.)
So why, in 2012, do we need to know the low down on this nearly-two-decades-ago affair, especially considering that the child in question is now old enough to watch the reveal play out on Twitter?
Jean has stated in interviews that she would likely want him to be honest about the relationship because she is so honest herself, honesty and full disclosure are not the same thing. Would this have been a true autobiography had he not included that one anecdote? I say 'yes.' He could have described the great love that allegedly inspired both The Score and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill without bringing up the (alleged) paternity issue. He even could have admitted that Hill "broke his heart," as he claims, without throwing her all the way under the bus. Especially considering where everyone's favorite female emcee is today.
Hill has been the subject of great speculation, scrutiny and even worry after displaying some erratic behavior, treating loyal fans with various levels of disregard (ranging from being rude at concerts and failing to release new music, the latter which has drawn disdain that makes me wonder if L. Boogie stans think they own her) and after having six children in an era in which most pop stars don't risk their waistlines to have even one. Her relationship with Marley is certainly the stuff gossip blogs survive on: a whole bunch of kids, questions over why they never married (because most Black folks get married, right?), allegations of infidelity and then his shocking and now-cancelled engagement to a young White Brazillan woman. If that was not enough to make a sane woman go mad and a mad woman go madder, Hill is also facing federal prison time for tax evasion. Does she need this right now?
Some say that if you ever truly loved someone, you'll always have love for them, even if the romantic feelings have passed. And even if the love feels absent, one would imagine that you should always have some care or compassion for the well-being of someone who you loved. Throughout the passages which deal with the Hill relationship, which began just as Jean was "falling in love" with his wife Claudinette, the singer maintains that he truly loved his former bandmate, former "muse." It doesn't feel loving or caring to hear him on The Wendy Williams Show explaining that he knew Zion wasn't his because he was a "yellow" baby.
Perhaps everything Jean is saying is true. Perhaps she manipulated him, broke his heart and smudged his Pumas on her way out the door. As the old saying goes “there’s no honor amongst thieves.” He was attached to another woman, Hill knew of this and his own admission, the infidelity was wrong. You can’t shade someone for not being a good mistress; there’s no such thing. While I acknowledge that these two people have lived history and that their relationship, due to its musical fruits, is one that has impacted the lives of people who they will never know, does that mean that all bets are off regarding discretion, privacy and personal details?
I'm not one of the Lauryn Hill fans who has canonized the singer because she released a few records I that I love and because she has natural hair and is 'positive.' I think that any woman would deserve the consideration Jean didn't give her when spilling this piece of information, especially considering where she's at right now: the mother of a newborn and potentially headed to prison.
Many a noteworthy person has written a tell-all that aired out friends, foes and the unfortunate souls who manage to fall somewhere in between. It just seems that the time for Jean to strike with these allegations would be in response to comments from Hill that point to him as the ‘bad guy’ in your affair or paint things in a way that he found to be dishonest. Or perhaps better yet, when both parties are in the sunset of their lives, decades removed from the relationship. When all involved children are full-grown adults with regrets of their own. Wyclef Jean certainly has a right to his truth and his story; it just feels like this reveal is both too soon and too late at the same time.
Honestly, some things are simply better left unsaid.
Jamilah Lemieux is the News and Lifestyle Editor for EBONY.com. Views expressed here are her own.