Shyne Makes First Public Appearance In Belize

Rapper Jamaal 'Shyne' Barrow returns to Manhattan Supreme Court March 15, 2001 from a lunch break during jury deliberations for the atempted murder case against him. Barrow was sentenced June 1, 2001 to 10 years in prison for shooting and wounding two people during a dispute between hip-hop mogul Sean ``Puffy'''' Combs and another man in a Times Square nightclub.

Rapper Shyne made his first public appearance on Monday (Nov. 2) since being deported to his native Belize last week. The former Bad Boy signee served close to nine years in prison for his involvement in the 1999 Club New York shooting for which labelhead Sean "Diddy" Combs also stood trial but was acquitted. The press conference was held at Wesley College in Belize, the high school that Shyne, born Jamal Barrow, attended in 1993.

"Nobody is perfect and a lot of us grow up in imperfect situations, as myself. But there are no excuses," Shyne, who legally changed his name to Moses Michael Levi while serving his term, said to both students and reporters according to "I make 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. You make mistakes and the point is to transform those mistakes, and that's what I've been trying to do."

As per converting to Judaism while in prison, which many reported was the reason for his name change, Shyne said there was no religious switch. "There was no conversion to Judaism. This is hereditary -- it's my ancestral background," he clarified. "In life you are what you are, and this is who I am. I don't want to be like Michael Jordan, I want to be like Moses or King David or King Solomon. Those are the guys I aspire to be like."

Shyne also emphasized the importance of education, using himself as an example. "I came up in the streets with guys that gangbanged and were into criminal activities, and those tools never worked," he said. "Those tools, you either end up spending the rest of your life in prison or sleeping in the grave for the rest of your life. But with the tool you're getting here, as far as education is concerned, that is the ultimate tool."

Shyne credited his affinity for reading the dictionary and paying attention in English class for being able to attain the success he's reached and legal backing from the likes of Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who was present during the conference as well.

"I grew up on Curassow street, when I was coming up we didn't even have toilets," Shyne said. "But one of the things my uncle Finnegan and my father, Prime Minister Barrow, implored on me was education. I didn't really get that... but as I came up, my music, being Shyne, being able to go from Curassow street to the United States and sell millions of records -- the only way I was able to do that is because I used to be at my uncle Deny's house in the corner reading the dictionary. I was very into my English -- I would fail all my other classes, but when it came to English, I was paying attention.

"And if it wasn't for that I wouldn't sell any records," he continued. "I wouldn't be able to call Jay-Z on my iPhone and I wouldn't be able to live the life that I live."