“The tall man in the velvet fedora and knee-length black jacket with ritual fringes” taking “long, swift strides toward the Western Wall” in today’s New York Times is not Knicks basketball star Amare Stoudemire, who discovered his Hebrew roots over the summer. It’s Brooklyn rapper Shyne, noted for his vocal similarities to the Notorious B.I.G., but most famous for his role in a 1999 club shooting also involving his Bad Boy mentor Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez. Shyne, just 19-years-old at the time, would go on to serve nine years of a ten year prison sentence. Upon his release in the Fall of 2009, Shyne was deported to his native Belize. Now, he’s really serious about Judaism.
Via the Times:
“My entire life screams that I have a Jewish neshama,” he said, using the Hebrew word for soul.
Living as Moses Levi, an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem (he legally changed his name from Jamal Barrow), he shuttles between sessions of Talmud study with some of the most religiously stringent rabbis in the city and preparations for a musical comeback.
Shyne says he first referred to himself as “an Israelite” at the age of thirteen and around the time he began to wonder if his Ethiopian great-greatmother was Jewish. Referred to as Mr. Levi, the rapper “speaks in the style of the urban streets but combines his slang with Yiddish-accented Hebrew words.”
Other bizarre facts or New York Times lines, in no particular order:
In an Israeli rental car, the rapper plays tracks from “two new albums” slated for a Def Jam release in March with “three more albums” to follow. Be’hatzlacha!