“Nobody’s perfect,” said the artist who legally changed his name to Moses Michael Levyi. “A lot of us grew up in imperfect situations, as myself. And our lives continue to be imperfect. But there are no excuses. I hold myself accountable for the mistakes I’ve made in my life, but that’s not the end of me or anyone. The point is to transform those mistakes. So if I can inspire one of these kids not to be a criminal activist, but a community activist, that’s what I’m here to do.”
Before going on to address the students at Wesley, Shyne also fielded questions about his conversion to Judaism and name change. There was no conversion to Judaism,” he explained. “This is a hereditary thing in my ancestry. Many Africans through out Central Africa, East Africa [were brought] to Belize. So this was not a conversion. But nonetheless, in life, you are what you are. I don’t wanna be like Michael Jordan, I wanna be like Moses or King David or King Solomon, those are the guys that I aspire to be like. I didn’t want to be like the kingpin on my block, I wanna be like the guy that parted the seas. That’s why I took that name.”
Changes aside, however Shyne told the journalists gathered that he has no intention on sanitizing his music, and that he intended to continue to make music that reflects the harsh realities of life. To the Wesley students, Shyne made it clear that he could not have attained success without having been taught the importance of education.“I came up on the streets with guys that gangbang and take up criminal activity,” he told the assembly, “and those tools never work. With those tools, you either end up in prison or in a grave. But with the tools that you’re given here, education, that’s the ultimate tool. And with that tool, you can transcend any situation and transform any situation. ‘Cause I’m just like you.”After serving nearly nine years in prison for his role in a violent 1999 nightclub shooting, Shyne was released from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on October 6. The rapper, born Jamal Barrow, was immediately turned over to Immigration authorities who sought to determine his status as a legal resident alien. Three weeks later, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deported the rapper to Belize, where his father, Dean Barrow, serves as Prime Minister.
The two, who were estranged for years, have since reconciled.