In this episode of People’s Party, Talib Kweli and Jasmin Leigh sit down with rapper, singer, songwriter, producer and one of Talib’s closest friends — John Forte. John’s life story is one of extreme highs, lows, and redemption. The show kicks off with talk of his early years growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn with an adventurous spirit, always being on the move. They explore his unique sense of style, things that drew him to the 5% Nation, and landing his first job in the industry, not as an emcee, but as head of A&R for Rawkus Records.
Later they dig into John’s work with the Fugees. Him being there from the jump and seeing first hand the progression of each member’s career, especially that of his close friend Lauryn Hill. He also tells the story of his arrest at the Newark airport for possession of $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine, and being sentenced to a mandatory 14 year prison sentence. He describes what led up to that moment, time spent while incarcerated, and the aftermath of eventually getting out early via an order of executive clemency from President Bush.
As the convo continues John speaks on the re-release of his album “I, John,” which he wrote and recorded after his arrest, with a pending 14 year prison term fresh in his mind. He also speaks on his close friendship with legendary singer/songwriter Carly Simon, who fought for John’s early release, and her son Ben Taylor, also son of the great James Taylor. He talks about learning to play guitar while locked up, as well as the legendary DMX birthday round-table cypher session he participated in along with Big Pun, Canibus, and Mos Def. And in closing, John reflects on how he feels about the latest chapter in his life as a husband and father of a 2 year-old baby girl.