Fugees John Forte reinvents himself

From left, fan, Beverley Hunte, musician John Forte and Caribbean Life’s Tangerine Clarke after final showing of the documentary “The Russian Winter” and the Q&A at Central Bar in New York City.
Photo courtesy: Tangerine Clarke
Photo courtesy: Tangerine Clarke

John Forte has reinvented himself. In his newest album – “From Brooklyn to Russia With Love,” the Grammy nominated musician and former Fugees producer, bears his soul in titles – “I’ll Give you Me,” “Upon Close Examination” and “Let Life Begin.”

Forte who was the topic of a documentary recently premiered at the 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, in New York City, gave his audience an introspective of his life as he makes his way back into the music industry, after being released from the Pennsylvania Lorreto federal Penitentiary four years ago.

Forte was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years, but served only seven, for possession of 31 pounds of liquid cocaine, that was found in his luggage at Newark Airport in 2000.

In a candid portrayal in “The Russian Winter,” the famous Hip Hop rapper, of Haitian decent named his mother and 1970s singer/songwriter, Carly Simon as his inspiration in life, and spoke about being pardoned by former president George W. Bush.

Forte, who grew up in a single-family home in Bedford Stuyvesant, but who did well as a student of violin at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, was pardoned after Carly Simon, along with Sen. Orin Hatch, a musician himself, fought vigorously for the Forte’s release. They argued that the sentence was too harsh for a first time drug offence.

During the final showing of the ‘94 film on April 25, Forte expressed gratitude to his former high school friend Christophe Charlier, head of Le Castle Company, for helping him to regain notoriety after his visit to Russia that was initially planned for just a weekend.

Directed by Peter Ringbom, the movie was shot entirely in the winter swept country of Russia during a four-month, five-city tour, of concerts that were held in a Russian orphanage, hospital and concert halls, with all proceeds going towards the institutions in St. Petersburg.

In his straightforward conversations, Forte spoke about the hardship Black men face in American society, many coming from single-family homes, referring to his own father whom he said was gracious enough to name him John Forte Junior, but did not stick around to take care of him.

The excellent documentary was followed by a QandA at New York’s Central Bar, with Forte, who expressed gratitude for being released from his five-year probation. He made a commitment to work with organizations to overturn the harsh penalties meted out for drug offences, as he continues his role in public speaking to combat drugs trafficking.

Thirty-seven-year-old Forte, who shot to fame with band mates Lauren Hill and Wyclif Jean became famous for his 1998 Columbia Records album “Poly Sci” that featured DMX and Fugees member Pras.

The dreadlocked wrapper and mind-blowing talented songwriter also appeared on Wyclef Jean’s hit “We Trying To Stay Alive,” and released “I, John” in 2002.

He has performed in more that 40 concerts, and has more than 60 songs to his name.

To support Forte’s come back follow him on his Face Book page.

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