John Forte: Broken And Reborn

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Few events in the George W. Bush presidency were more astonishing than his November pardoning of John Forte, the Fugees satellite who was released from prison after serving about half of his 14-year term for cocaine possession with intent to distribute. Long story short: Forte's friend Carly Simon charmed U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (a singer-songwriter himself) into arguing the case for the Forte's freedom. StyleFREE the EP is the rapper-cum-singer's third solo record, and it features six songs he wrote while serving his sentence.

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Breaking of a Man"
  • Artist: John Forte
  • CD: StyleFREE the EP
  • Genre: Soul
John Forte i

In "Breaking of a Man," the recently incarcerated former Fugee John Forte details his unlikely path to inspiration. Fiona Aboud hide caption

toggle caption Fiona Aboud
John Forte

In "Breaking of a Man," the recently incarcerated former Fugee John Forte details his unlikely path to inspiration.

Fiona Aboud

"Breaking of a Man" is the most harrowing of the bunch: It tells the story of a man who's been devastated by his punishment ("the penalty for suffering can seem so hard") but has emerged stronger. Forte says his time in prison made him change his lifestyle for the better — he now takes a greater interest in world affairs, eats better and exercises more — and that's reflected in the lyrics: "You can say the judge killed me, then I came to life / A newborn, like a neophyte." Though known primarily as a producer and an MC, Forte learned guitar behind bars, and he plays that instrument and sings on the track. He professes to lack confidence in both of those skills, and the vulnerability plays well here, as Forte details his unlikely path to inspiration under the most harrowing of circumstances.

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John Forté

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