With news that The Fuguees are reuniting for a surprise reunion tour, more about the group’s complex history is being brought to the forefront. One of the biggest issues amongst the group was Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean’s love affair. The two began a relationship before Jean was married and continued on afterward. But Jean says he chose his wife because she provided more stability.
Wyclef Jean began dating Lauryn Hill and his wife at the same time
Jean began a relationship with Hill shortly after the members of The Fugees moved in together to focus on their music. He says sharing the same love for music is what bonded him and Hill. He wrote about the love triangle in his 2012 memoir Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story.
“Lauryn and I were pursuing a dream together, and that goal, as well as our mutual love of music, was the language that brought us together,” he writes. “And there was an attraction there; I’m not going to lie and act as if it was just because we spent time together that we ended up together. Lauryn’s beautiful, and because of her looks and her talent and everything we shared with each other — from songs to books to lyrics — love was bound to grow.”
Despite loving Hill, he began pursuing his future wife, Claudinette. “She was fly, she was established, she was modeling in New York, and just so she wouldn’t pass me by, I tricked her and lied about my age,” he writes. “I said I was twenty-two or something, so she’d go out with me. Her family is very religious and traditional, so I brought her to my dad’s church and courted her the proper way and we started dating.”
Hill and Claudinette married in 1994. By 1996, Hill began dating reggae singer, Rohan Marley. She became pregnant by Marley. Hill’s pregnancy bothered Jean.
The producer says he was in love with both women
Jean says he loved both his wife and Hill. The love triangle became difficult for him to keep up, but at the time, he says it was worth the risk.
“I was with both of these incredible women at the same time, which isn’t something to be proud of but it was definitely unavoidable,” he writes. “I couldn’t say no to either of them and I mean it when I say I loved them both, because I did.”
Jean realizes the hurt the affair caused all involved in the relationship. “I knew this situation couldn’t last, but I didn’t care; I was going to try to work it for as long as I could,” he writes. “And I think most men in my position would have done the same. I now know it ended up causing more trouble than anything — for all of us — but at the time that was the last thing on my mind.”
Wyclef Jean says he chose his wife because she was loyal to him
Ultimately, Jean says he chose his wife over Hill because of their foundation. He says Claudinette grounded him. Whereas, his affair with Hill was something he describes as a fantasy.
“Claudinette was with me when I had nothing, and she stood by me and helped me to be the man that I have become—the man I wouldn’t have been without her […] It’s easy to listen to the music and hear the romance and love in there and think of what could have been,” he writes. “But the music is the best expression of my relationship with Lauryn. The rest of it wasn’t smooth at all. We were either deeply in love or fighting; there was no middle ground. It was a passionate roller coaster ride, every single day […] The real Lauryn is much more complicated than what comes through in her art. Same goes for me.”
Regardless of the hurt feelings, The Fugees are reuniting for a reunion tour in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their sophomore album The Score. The reunion marks the first time in 15 years the group will be on stage together.