John Forte showed up for the Morning After with special guest co-host Patrice O’Neal, and we spoke about his youth in Brownsville as a latchkey kid, growing up with his mom and his sister, and not meeting his dad, even though he’s a junior.
Then we got into what happened that caused him to get charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute, leading to a mandatory 14 year sentence.
John Forte also confesses that he cried once in the past ten years, and reveals what he did his first day (and night!) out of prison.
On his first job as an A&R for Rawkus at age 19:
“It was my first real job out of school…I went to college for about 72 hours, it was NYU where Talib Kweli was my roommate. I stayed in the dorm for months, sneaking in with my student id card, but I wasn’t actually attending classes. And I’m not proud of that by the way, so if anyone out there listening thinks ‘yeah that’s really cool, he dropped out after 3 days of school’ – that’s wack.”
On meeting The Fugees and dating Lauryn Hill – briefly:
“I met and befriended Lauryn first and foremost after I saw them perform at the Supper Club one night… The dating was so ephemeral that it almost doesn’t count…it was like a speed date… I didn’t always have ephemeral in my vocabulary, I went to prison. I read a lot.”
On going independent nowadays:
“And fortunately technology allows us as artists to maintain our independence and to connect with the fans in a way that we’ve never been able to do so before. So it’s exhilarating and exciting for me to be able to get up at 7 in the morning to tweet or to be on facebook to catch up with people to see how I did at a show the night before. I get instant feedback. Back in the days I would have to wait until we had a marketing meeting to figure out how I was doing in certain regions…”
On dealing with the “haters:”
“It’s human nature to deceive yourself into thinking that everyone is your friend or that you’re loved by everyone. You’re just setting yourself up for failure. I don’t live for other people. It’s great when I get the positive feedback and the encouragement but when a person tries to break me down they don’t love me, they don’t care for me. Now constructive criticism is different. If you want to criticize me in order to build me up that’s beautiful. That’s like us walking down this journey together. Like if you see me off my square you pull my coattails and you keep me on the up and up, but if you just want to castrate me for the sake of it then I don’t need you at all.”
On the controlled delivery that resulted in his arrest:
“The delivery was already being monitored by the feds. It wasn’t as if I was just caught on the humble. It was an operation. Everyone testified against me.”
Although John Forte was not the ringleader of the operation, he stated that he believes name recognition played in part in him being the one person the feds targeted. And despite the belief that he should have been doing well financially and in his career, there were some obstacles:
“I wasn’t on a label, I was dropped from Sony, here I am with the Fugees and having sold 15 million records with them, and then going on and working with Clef and being part of his success so when it was my turn and I sold 70,000 units domestically, like that’s a brick. 70,000 units.”
On whether he was “quick” on his first night home:
“Honestly I thought it would be and I even told her, I was like ‘please bear with me because this might take 23 seconds,’ and it was surprising. It was like 3 hours.”