Exclusive – Former Bad Boy Records artist Shyne was recently welcomed back to the United States nearly 10 years after being deported to his home country of Belize. But it was an arduous road to not only secure his freedom from prison but also get to a point where he could talk to Diddy again.
In 1999, Shyne, Diddy and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez went to a Manhattan nightclub where a shooting took place. Shyne, just 20 at the time, was forced to make the rash decision to either defend himself and his friends or risk getting shot by alleged instigator Matthew “Scar” Allen. So, he pulled the trigger.
While no one was killed, three people were injured, and Shyne was ultimately charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment. But Diddy, who was also arrested that night, was acquitted of all charges and their friendship was never the same. In fact, Shyne severed all ties with Diddy and Bad Boy Records.
For nearly 10 years, Shyne sat behind the bars of Clinton Correctional Facility as he immersed himself in books on Judaism. In 2009, Shyne was released from prison and into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. He was then sent back to Belize where he continued fighting for U.S. citizenship.
After changing his name to Moses Michael Levi Barrow in 2006, Shyne committed himself to the religion wholeheartedly and eventually moved to Jerusalem where he spent endless hours studying the Torah.
During a recent Zoom interview with HipHopDX, the 42-year-old made it clear he still applies the lessons he’s learned to everyday life as he talked about how he was finally able to find forgiveness and mend his friendship with Diddy.
Shyne, who’s now a member of the House of Representatives in Belize, was stoic as he spoke about a story he says has been “recycled” too many times. Nonetheless, it was a part of his history that undoubtedly helped shape him as a politician and man.
Earlier this month, Diddy was instrumental in securing a U.S. Visa for his former artist, proving they’ve come a long way.
“I think all families that I know on planet Earth have disputes and difficulties, and that’s part of a family,” he tells DX. “And I think you have to have perspective, and you have to have a vision and a focus as to where you’re going. I try not to focus on people and I try to focus on myself. Once I heal and once I get clarity as to my purpose and my mission, then taking the baggage of yesterday with me is not practical. You can’t move forward taking things from 23 years ago with you.
“I can’t plan and succeed in building my life for the next 23 years if I’m taking all the things that are holding me back, that are stagnating me, that are weighing me down. If I try to take those things with me, I won’t progress.”
He adds, “So that was something that I did internally. And then once you do that, your relationships change. You open the door to have healthier relationships because you’re healthier, you’re focused, you have a vision and all your energy is going towards that vision.”
For the last eight years, Shyne has been a community activist, helping the poor, disinherited and disenfranchised in his community and that’s where he says all his energy is these days.
“I have purged myself of whatever resentment and whatever blame and whatever anger and frustration and devastation,” he continues. “I’ve rid myself of that because I can’t carry that with me because I need to make room for all these people that I’m trying to help, that have so much baggage and such a load to carry, and I’m trying to lift them. So I can’t lift them up if I’ve got negativity holding me down.
“That’s how that came out, just in a different mind-state, just in a different place. And so once you’re in a different place, things open up. And I just think Diddy and I, we were always close. And that’s why it was so devastating and emotions were where they were. If it was just business, then you wouldn’t care and you’d just take it for what it was. So as I said, your family, you disagree, you might not speak for years, but you always love your family. So once you get to a place of forgiveness and a place of healing, then you can move on to where you need to go. Then you and your family can reconnect.”
But he and Diddy had been already talking behind the scenes for years. In July 2020, he even endorsed him for his political aspirations.
“We’ve been having offline conversations for the last couple of years, especially in relation to the community work that I was doing in Belize and all the people that I was helping,” he explains. “And really, that’s how we started talking, just him telling me how proud of me he was and how much he admired my resolve and the great work I was doing for my people. And me just receiving that love and just going back to what I was doing. I think a lot of times what breaks relationships and what makes relationships toxic is when there are expectations, demands.
“And so we have a much healthier relationship now because I don’t expect anything from anyone. I’m not upset with anyone if they are not giving me anything because I don’t expect anything. So if I don’t expect anything from you, then I have nothing but love to give.”
He continues, “And so for me, it’s not about receiving, it’s just about giving and helping and that’s the state of mind I’m in. So I think that put the relationship in a better place because everybody’s comfortable, nobody feels obligated, nobody feels there’s no tension. It’s just love.”
For now, Shyne is hyper-focused on his role as Hon. Shyne Barrow MP and how he can make life in Belize better for its citizens.
In Part II of the HipHopDX interview, Shyne will discuss his political agenda, forthcoming authorized documentary and thoughts on rapping again.