Shyne: L.A. Reid 'Doesn't Believe In Hip-Hop'
Following his prison release last October after spending nearly a decade behind bars, former Bad Boy rapper Shyne is prepping his comeback with two new albums, "Messiah" and "Gangland." Although the latter album is set for release on Def Jam Records, Shyne says that he's "been on my lawyer to get me up out of there for a couple months now" and has soured on the work of Island Def Jam Chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid, who he believes "shouldn't be the chairman of Island Def Jam."
"It's difficult to do business with somebody who doesn't believe in what you do," Shyne tells Billboard.com. "They don't get it, they don't believe in hip-hop. They're into that R&B thing, and that's cool. But Def Jam is an institution… how you gonna have a chairman that don't believe in hip-hop?"
Shyne inked a seven-figure deal with Def Jam last February after serving nine years for charges from a 1999 club shooting, although the rapper says that he was originally going to sign with Interscope Records. "[Interscope chairman] Jimmy Iovine put the deal on the table, and L.A. came along and he sold me on, 'We're gonna do this together,'" says Shyne. "When it came down to it, he doesn't want nothing to do with making hip-hop music. If that was the case, I would have stayed with what my gut told me, which was to go with Jimmy."
After issuing new single "Roller Song" last June, Shyne (born Jamal Barrow, now legally known as Moses Levi) plans to release "Gangland" next spring on the same day as "Messiah," which will come out on Cash Money Records. The rapper is currently working in Israel after being deported upon his prison release and spending time in Belize.
Although Shyne misses his native Brooklyn, he says that he has used his prison time and exile to fuel his latest music. "I spent ten years just being numb," he says. "When I first came out, it was with the voice of that suppressed emotion… The lyrical content surpassed anything I had ever done, and most of the things that are out there, bar [Jay-Z]. Other than that, I don't know who else can talk the way I talk."