Friday, January 30, 2009

Forté Fugit: A Rapper's Homecoming

"Homecoming" John Forte + Talib Kweli from The ICU on Vimeo.

By Mary Lyn Maiscott

Musician John Forté, a Grammy nominee for his production work with the Fugees, has fugit from prison courtesy of—it’s a shocker—George W. Bush (and here I was expecting him to pardon himself). Forté, who turns 34 today, allegedly got caught transporting a damn lot of liquid cocaine, but Carly Simon (some kind of kid’s-prep-school connection here with Forté, who went to Phillips Exeter Academy), Senator Orrin Hatch (a, ahem, songwriter on the side), and others thought a 14-year-sentence for a first, nonviolent offense was over the top. They lobbied successfully on behalf of the violinist/guitarist/rapper, who had already served seven years. On his Daily Beast blog about leaving prison on December 22, Forté recounts that on his first day out, after seeing his mother and his probation officer, he hit the studio—why waste precious time? Above is a video of his new track “Homecoming,” featuring Talib Kwell, with Kanye West on background vocals. Partly a paean to his home borough (“Brooklyn, keep my heart open”), the song invokes Sarah Palin (negatively) and Walt Whitman (positively) as Forté vows to keep singing “till every string on my guitar’s broken.”