Shyne recently spoke to Time Magazine Online about his conversion to Judaism. Shyne, who was born Jamal Michael Barrow but has changed his name to Moshe Levi, was in jail serving a sentence for firing a gun in a club and wounding three people way back when with Diddy & J. Lo. He says he experienced a religious awakening while in prison.
“An African in America who’s pretty famous in African-American culture, you would think would be drawn to Islam, or maybe Christianity,” he says, in the lobby of the King David Hotel. “But I couldn’t convert to something I’m not. Islam just didn’t make sense to me. I come from the ultimate truth. European Jews are not the only Jews.”
Shyne says that, “it's not about how much Torah I know and what rabbi I'm following, It's about what I'm doing with the information."
Part of the influence for this change also came from the fact that Shyne's parents are actually descended from Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition.
Shyne moved to Jerusalem in 2010, having been deported after his gun-shooting incident, and he said of rapping, "I don't even want to be a rapper. I don't listen to that music. I'm a musician. I'd rather be like Bob Marley or Leonard Cohen, one of those guys."
On his two unreleased albums, "Gangland" and "Messiah," Shyne says that both are rap but “totally philosophical and sophisticated. No misogyny. None of that deranged stuff I used to be into.”