You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.

Franz Kafka

Shyne - Biography

Moshe Levi Ben-David (born Jamal Michael Barrow; November 8, 1979), better known by his stage name Shyne, is a Belizean rapper.



Shyne was born in Belize City, Belize, the son of Dean Barrow, the current Prime Minister of Belize. Shyne has only reluctantly acknowledged him as his father, due to his father publicly stating that Shyne was "unwanted". His mother is the sister of Michael Finnegan, one of Barrow's long-time political colleagues. Shyne remained behind with his uncle in Belize City when his mother moved to the US. It was not until the age of 13 when she was able to bring him with her to Brooklyn's Vanderveer Estates in East Flatbush (now known as 'Flatbush Gardens').

Music career

Early career and Bad Boy Records

In 1998, while Shyne was freestyling in a barbershop with friend J.CABA, hip hop producer Clark Kent noticed something unique in Shyne's voice. He sounded to him very similar to the late Notorious B.I.G.. At the time, Clark Kent was working on B.I.G.'s posthumous "Born Again" album.

Not long after, Shyne started making appearances on recordings made by Bad Boy Records artists. He notably featured on a remix of Total's "Sittin At Home" track and on Mase's second album Double Up, on the track entitled "From Scratch". In the same year he featured on Bad Boy Records' chief executive Sean Combs' Forever, as well as on a remix of P.E. 2000.

Club New York shooting

On December 27, 1999, Shyne and then girlfriend Monay Hawkins, who was with Sean Combs and Combs' then girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, was involved in a shooting at a Manhattan club which left three people injured. As a result the 20-year-old rapper, whose debut album was pending release, was charged with and convicted of attempted murder, assault, and reckless endangerment. This led to rumours about Shyne's position at Bad Boy records and doubts about whether his debut album was ever going to be released.


On June 1, 2001, Shyne was sentenced to ten years in prison. He began serving his sentence at the maximum security prison Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. This seemed to spell the end of his rap career and his legal team's attempts to appeal for a suspended sentence ultimately failed. Rumors that he had severed all ties with Sean Combs and Bad Boy Records proved later to be true.

He had his name legally changed, in early March 2006, from his birthname of Jamal Michael Barrow to Moses Michael Levi to reflect his grandmother's Jewish heritage. Just days later he was in court again to challenge New York's application of the 'Son of Sam' law, a law which resulted in his assets being frozen and limiting his ability to line up record deals and remain profitable. He and his lawyers argued that allowing him to make deals with record producers would also increase the value of a potential settlement with the victims involved in the night club shooting.

Despite his crimes, his incarceration drew many sympathizers, as well as the admiration of many in the hip hop community. His adherence to the code of silence, which he made reference to numerous times on his self-titled debut album, earned him a hardcore reputation in both the prison community as well as on the streets. Even while incarcerated, his name continued to be linked with several record labels. However, he was not without his detractors; fellow New York rapper 50 Cent even went so far as to call him a punk and made light of his situation and his involvement in the "night club incident". Shyne responded in kind on his 2004 release Godfather Buried Alive, with a track entitled "For the Record".

Release and deportation

On August 4, 2009, Shyne was released to his former producer Nick Dahms. A Manhattan judge signed the order that would schedule Shyne for release on October 6, 2009. Having served over 9 years of a 10 year sentence on which no terms for post-release supervision had originally been placed; at the request of the Correction Department the recent re-sentencing calls for a mandatory probation period of at least two and half years. Shyne and his attorney, Oscar Michelen had initially hoped to avoid this, with Shyne labeling it as being akin to "extra jail time". However Michelen did allow that the state was well within its rights. He was then transferred to the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, where he spent the last months of his incarceration, from Rikers Island where he had awaited his parole hearing.

There was considerable anticipation for his release in hip hop and mainstream media alike. On October 6, 2009, Shyne was released from New York State custody. However upon his release, Shyne was immediately apprehended into Federal custody. It became public knowledge a few hours following his apparent release that he had been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a then "undisclosed detention facility in Western New York State". At least one source revealed that the facility in question was the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. According to his attorney, Oscar Michelen, Federal officials were reviewing the rapper's immigration status and making a determination on whether or not he would be deported to his native Belize. He went on to clarify that Shyne was in possession of a "green card" but had never been naturalized. There was some speculation that Shyne might have been released on bail in the US while his case was being resolved. However there was no real indication that a bail was ever set or notification of any change in his official status.

Although statements from his family in Belize and the US remained positive, according to Shyne's uncle, Michael Finnegan, preparations had been made in the event that the rapper was sent back to Belize. He also revealed that Shyne and his representatives had been expecting to be intercepted by ICE officials upon his release and had deferred members of his legal team to prepare the necessary documents in an effort to deal with this situation. Shortly into the developing ordeal, Dean Barrow, Belize's Prime Minister and Shyne's estranged father, sent a petition to New York Governor David Paterson to pardon his son. In 2008 Governor Paterson pardoned rapper Slick Rick who, in a similar situation, also faced deportation. Barrow stated that he'd been assured that the Governor received his letter and that it was under consideration, but that he did not expect to have any influence in swaying the decision. The family also indicated that they had sought the assistance of Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law professor who is known for being a mentor to President Barack Obama and a part of his inner circle. On October 15, 2009 Michael Finnegan released a statement indicating that all legal matters regarding the case had been turned over to Ogletree entirely. The decision was apparently agreed to by all concerned members of Shyne's family.

By October 22, 2009 most publications were indicating that a final decision had been reached and, barring a last minute pardon from Governor Paterson, Shyne would be deported back to Belize. Shyne was deported back to Belize on Wednesday October 28, 2009 though he continued to fight for residency in the United States.

He is now living in Jerusalem as an Orthodox Jew under his new name, Moses Levi. He reportedly spends his time learning the Torah and is planning a comeback.

In February 2010, the rapper was refused entry into the United Kingdom due to his criminal past. He had commenced his journey in Cancun, Mexico, but was deported upon arrival in the UK after immigration officials refused to allow him to enter the country. On February 16, 2010, Shyne signed a seven figure deal with Def Jam Records. Gangland & Messiah, are scheduled to be released in the fall of 2011, and they will be his first studio albums since his release from prison in late 2009. Shyne made a surprise guest appearance in the Matisyahu / HaDag Nachash concert in Jerusalem’s Kikar Safra on June 23, 2011. He rapped into Matisyahu’s set for “King Without a Crown”. He shouted “Free Jonathan Pollard, Free Gilad Shalit” to thunderous applause before he exited the stage.

In July 2011 Shyne was confirmed to have signed a deal with Cash Money Records. Shyne appears on the track Outro from Lil Wayne's ninth studio album Tha Carter IV, along with Bun B, Nas, and Busta Rhymes.

Solar Energy

Shyne recently released a new song entitled “Solar Energy”. The rap was written with Arava Power Company’s president, Yosef Abramowitz, in honor of the inauguration of Ketura Sun, the first solar field in Israel. Shyne premiered the song on June 5, 2011, at the Ketura Sun launch.



  • Shyne (2000)
  • Godfather Buried Alive (2004)
  • Gangland (2012)
  • Messiah (2012)


  • The Truth: Advance (2001)
  • Lost Sons (2003)

See also

  • List of individuals banned from entering the United Kingdom


External links

  • [ Shyne] at Allmusic

The article is about these people: Shyne

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