Whoever said there wasn’t life after Bad Boy, must not have been talking about rapper Shyne. After serving an 8 year bid for the notorious (no pun intended) night club shooting that involved his then boss, P. Diddy, and Diddy’s then girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, the former Bad Boy rapper & Diddy protégé was deported to Belize, where his father is Prime minister. These series of unfortunate events hasn’t deterred Shyne, who now goes by Moshe Levi Ben-David, after converting to Orthodox Judaism. While incarcerated, Shyne became a “Baal Tshuva,” the Hebrew term for a newly observant Jew. Not only did he change his name, he changed his lifestyle – praying regularly, keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath.
“Being in Israel is just the exclamation point,” he said Thursday. “This is the ultimate place to be who you are.”
During a two-hour conversation on a hotel balcony overlooking the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, Shyne said his connection to Judaism goes back to his childhood – when he was still known as Jamaal Michael Barrow.
His mother claims Ethiopian Jewish ancestry, but the man who now calls himself Moshe Levi Ben-David says his roots go even deeper and that even as a boy in the streets, he was oddly drawn to Judaism and identified with its biblical heroes.
“I grew up in a war, constantly battling, and the only person I could relate to was King David. Of course I love Michael Jordan, I love Mike Tyson, I love the typical people that people love, Muhammad Ali, but I had more of a connection with King David,” he said.
Shyne, 32, has swapped his hip-hop attire of oversized basketball jerseys and diamond studded teeth for the traditional black suit and white knee-high stockings favored by the Belz Hassidic sect. He wears a black skullcap over his shaven head, but in a reminder of his former life, he still wears stylish black Ray Ban sunglasses.
Where he once rapped about loose women, fancy cars and hollowpoint bullets, he now fires off staccato sentences about Jewish law, peppered with Yiddish, in the same raspy voice once compared to that of the Notorious B.I.G.
“Wherever I go it is going to be the same shtick. This is who I am, you dig,” he said. (AP)
Shyne states that his newfound faith help him deal with all the misfortunes & troubles of his past, calling all those experiences “God’s will and part of his ‘Tikkun’ – a spiritual voyage to make amends.”