Jamal “Shyne” Barrow used to drop rhymes for Bad Boy Records but now the hip-hop artist is a key player and rising star in Belize’s political scene.
During the 1990s to 2000s, Barrow was a hit-making artist until he took the fall for the infamous 1999 Manhattan nightclub shooting involving Jennifer Lopez and her boyfriend, then known as Puff Daddy, founder of Bad Boy. Barrow was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He served eight and was released in 2009.
Upon his release, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained him “for an immigration law violation” and deported him to Belize as a non–U.S. citizen felon.
Shyne, who ran for and won a seat In the Belize House of Representatives in 2020, is currently the official leader of Belize’s conservative opposition party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), Slate reported.
Born into a family of Belizean politicians, Shyne ascended to that powerful post after serving for less than a year in the country’s House of Representatives.
Of Shyne’s rise in politics, cherry @cherry13474475 tweeted, “He got away from Diddy and turned his life around, respect.”
Jace, The Black Boy @jacexwest tweeted, “This is so good. Happy for him.”
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Shyne’s father, Dean Barrow, became the country’s first Black prime minister in 2008. Shyne’s uncle Michael Finnegan was a founding member of the UDP and a member of the Belize House representative since 1993 for the UDP-favoring Mesopotamia constituency, which encompasses Belize City. Dean Barrow served on the Belize City Council and went on to become the Belize House of Representatives opposition leader in 1988, taking charge of the UDP.
In April 2010, Shyne’s father appointed him as the country’s musical goodwill ambassador. It was the start of the hip-hop artist’s political rise in the Central American country that is also considered a Caribbean country.
In November 2020, Shyne won the Mesopotamia seat in Belize’s House of Representatives. His aunt Denise “Sista B” Barrow also won a seat.
Shyne, who became a practicing Orthodox Jew under the name Moses Levi, has commented on U.S. politics. He endorsed presidential candidate Mitt Romney in retaliation for his deportation by the Obama administration.
BLACK CONSERVATIVE @blackrepublican tweeted, “Black Conservatism Goes Global I see a future President! ‘As of this week, he’s the official leader of #Belize’s conservative opposition party, having ascended to that prominent post after serving for less than a year'”
Although Shyne has continued to make music, his political aspirations seem to have surpassed his recording career. He never fully bounced back musically after his incarceration.
On the night of Dec. 27, 1999, Puffy accidentally bumped into another partygoer, Matthew “Scar” Allen, and spilled his drink at Club New York in Manhattan. Puffy and Scar got into a heated argument, while Lopez and Shyne reportedly watched nearby. Shots were fired, and three clubgoers were injured in the ensuing chaos. Lopez, Puff, and his bodyguard fled before getting pulled over for running a red light. They were arrested after police found a gun in the car.
Shyne and Puff Daddy were later tried as perpetrators of the shooting. Puffy, who had celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran on his legal team, was cleared of all charges.
Shyne was convicted of attempted murder, assault, and reckless endangerment.
While he was incarcerated, Shyne’s 2000 debut album went platinum.
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“Years after, Shyne would admit to brandishing his firearm in self-defense that night and claim that Diddy later told him the mogul had been ‘under a lot of pressure from the lawyers to throw me under the bus,” Slate reported.