Classically trained hip-hop and pop veteran John Forte blends sleek rhythms and catchy hooks, in the process turning some difficult life experiences into introspective, ultimately uplifting music. Forte first leapt onto the scene with his production work on The Fugees' Grammy-winning 1996 hit The Score. But neither his life nor his career has gone smoothly since: In 2000, Forte was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and he wound up serving seven years in prison — a sentence that would have run twice as long had he not received a pardon from President George W. Bush. (Singer Carly Simon and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch both lobbied successfully for his release.)
In December 2008, Forte walked out of prison with new purpose and a batch of great songs, several of which appear on his recent StyleFREE EP. He now spends his time recording, touring, teaching at City College of New York, writing for the Web site The Daily Beast and working with children of incarcerated parents.