I find myself baffled over the media hype surrounding the fact that the rapper Shyne has been released from prison after 10 years of incarceration. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite happy for the brother. The problem is that the situation still confuses me, as weird information seems to pour out on this case every single day.
So, with the curiosity of both a professor and fan of hip hop, I’d like to ask Shyne the following questions:
Your father is the Prime Minister of Belize? WTF?
OK, I admit that I was a bit taken aback when I found out that Shyne’s father was engaged in such extravagant political pimpin. Wouldn’t you think that a guy whose father is the prime minister of Belize would be able to get out of prison a little quicker? Well, Shyne’s father, Dean Barrow, wasn’t elected Prime Minister until 2008, so maybe that played a role. But still, I’ve always thought that the children of politicians can get out of almost anything; have you ever seen the Kennedy and Bush family rap sheets? Oh yeah, they weren’t black.
Why is the deportation such a big deal? Can’t you just do music from Belize?
The idea that some feel that Shyne’s music career will be ruined by his deportation is a bit strange to me. I assume they have the Internet in Belize, along with fax machines, email, television, phones and the postal service. Hollywood director Roman Polanski spent 30 years overseas in order to avoid being tried for an alleged rape of a 13-year old girl in 1976. In spite of his “little situation,” Roman went on to make a bunch of award-winning films. Even Tupac has produced hits from the grave, which I assume is more difficult than making music in Belize.
Why are we so interested in Shyne’s situation anyway?
I don’t recall Shyne making more than one album before his incarceration in 2001. Mind you, his work was hot when it did hit the streets, and he had a couple of serious “bangers.” But it’s not as if he’d become another Jay Z. My theory is that everyone is intrigued by Shyne because he sounds so much like Biggie. I think they use the same nasal spray.
What’s up with all these rappers with trial dates?
TI gets a year. Lil Wayne gets a year. Jigga almost goes to jail before he starts the HOVA. Shyne gets prison time before he’s even made enough money to pay a lawyer. Are we ever going to get to a world where a rapper doesn’t have to risk going to prison in order to “keep it real”? Perhaps an artist can “keep it real” on the OUTSIDE of a jail cell. Rap music and criminal behavior don’t have to be one and the same.
Last question for Shyne: Did Diddy flat out lie about speaking with you?
After Diddy claimed that he spoke with Shyne in prison, Shyne issued a statement claiming that no such conversation ever took place. Wow. If the conversation never took place, then why would Diddy lie about it? When asked about Shyne, why didn’t Diddy simply say, “no comment”? Personally, I believe Shyne’s version of events, since Diddy didn’t release a statement in response to Shyne’s original statement. I can’t help but wonder why someone would pretend to have a conversation that didn’t happen.
I wish Shyne and his family the best. My friend Charles Ogletree at Harvard has been representing him. With Harvard professors, Prime Ministers and hip hop moguls at your back, you’d think that an artist could find some salvation. So far, Shyne’s short life has been nothing but bad luck and chaos.