Shyne raised a few eyebrows this year when he announced he had legally changed his name from Jamal Barrow to Moses Michael Levi. After being released from his 10-year sentence and subsequently being deported, Shyne simultaneously engaged in beef with 50 Cent and labelmate Rick Ross, while also expressing hope of turning over a peaceful new leaf. Shyne also briefly clashed with Def Jam head Antonio “L.A.” Reid. He explained how his conversion fits into the mix.
“There’s nothing in the Chumash that says I can’t drive a Lamborghini,” he told the New York Times in a recent interview. “[There’s] nothing in the Halacha about driving the cars I like, about the lifestyle I live.”
Shyne told Times writer Dina Craft that he began identifying himself as an Israelite at the age of 13, when he found that his grandmother was Ethiopian. He added that his connection to Judaism continued after his 2000 arrest for his role in a 1999 shooting involving Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jennifer Lopez.
While he was reluctant to speak on the incident, and persistent rumors that he took the fall for Combs, Shyne said his faith gave him a new interpretation of the law.
“What are the laws?” he said. “I want to know the laws. I don’t want to know the leniencies. I never look for the leniencies because of all of the terrible things I’ve done in my life, all of the mistakes I’ve made.”
After signing a deal reportedly worth over $5 million, Shyne said he hoped to release two albums, respectively entitled Messiah and Gangland. If his deportation holds up, it is unclear how he will tour to support either of them or the three albums which are scheduled to follow them.
“All these rules, rules, rules,” he added. “But you know what you have if you don’t have rules? You end up with a bunch of pills in your stomach. When you don’t know when to say when and no one tells you no, you go off the deep.”