On Monday in Belize, Shyne made his first public appearance since being deported to his native country last week. The former Bad Boy rapper had been detained by immigration officials for nearly four weeks after serving close to nine years in prison for his involvement in 1999’s Club New York shooting, for which Diddy also stood trial but was acquitted.
The press conference was held at the high school Shyne attended briefly in 1993, Wesley College in Belize City, where he spoke to students as well as reporters, according to 7NewsBelize.com and footage of the appearance that has hit the Internet.
Shyne, who changed his name from Jamal Barrow to Moses Michael Leviy while in prison, said that he did not convert to Judaism, as has been reported, but was inspired by Biblical figures.
“In life, you are what you are and this is what I am,” he said. “I don’t want to be like Michael Jordan. I want to be like Moses or King David or King Solomon. Those are the guys I aspire to be like. I didn’t want to be like the kingpin on my block; I wanted to be like the guy who parted the sea, that’s why I chose that name.”
Shyne also said he’s returning to music and he will not allow his messages to be watered down.
“I make music about life,” he said. “One of the greatest musicians was Bob Marley. There was nothing misogynistic about him. But his music, he talked about some harsh realities some time. He was tough. I would like to make that type of contribution, that kind of Marvin Gaye contribution, you dig? But at the same time we curse, at the same time life is violent, life is troublesome sometimes — so don’t expect my music to be sanitized. I am just going to talk about what’s going on in the world.”
But Shyne also talked about the importance of education for young people, noting that it was advice he’d spurned from his father, Dean Barrow, the Prime Minister of Belize.
“I came up on the streets with guys that gangbanged and were into criminal activity, and those tools never worked,” he said. “Those tools, you either end up spending the rest of your life in prison or sleeping in a grave. But with the tools that you are getting here as far as education is concerned, that is the ultimate tool and with that tool you can transcend any situation because I am just like you, you dig. I grew up on Curassow Street. When I was coming up we didn’t even have toilets. But one of the things my Uncle Finnegan and my father, Prime Minister Barrow, implored upon me was education, education, education, education.
“What I do have to say is not, ‘Listen man, I am on a gangster roll,’ ” he continued.”No, listen: Look what gangster roll got me. Look where it led me. And I am not telling you what to do because I am not a preacher and I am not everybody’s father, but I am exhibit A of what’s going to happen if you don’t stay in Wesley College, you dig? If you don’t go to that sixth form, if you don’t try to go to the university you’re going to spend the rest of your life in the cooker or you’re going to be in the grave. That is what this is about.”
Shyne says at first he didn’t take the advice to heart, but has since learned to appreciate the value of education.
“I didn’t really get that, I was like, ‘Yo, well, education, whatever,’ ” he continued.”But as I came up, my music, being Shyne and being able to go from Curassow Street [to the] United States and sell millions of records, the only way I was able to do that. I used to be at my Uncle Denys’ house and I used to be in the corner reading a dictionary. I was very into my English. I would fail my other classes but when it came to English, I would pay attention. And if it wasn’t for that, I would have never sold any records. I wouldn’t have been able to call Jay-Z on my iPhone and I wouldn’t be able to live the life that I live.”