A former rapper who was deported to Belize after opening fire at a New York club on a night out with P Diddy and Jennifer Lopez has returned to the United States a decade later as a politician.
Once a rising hip-hop star and child prodigy to Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jamal “Shyne” Barrow seemed to have fallen into oblivion after being arrested for a shooting at a downtown Manhattan nightclub and deported to his homeland of Belize.
But now, more than 10 years later, Barrow is back in the United States – no longer as a convicted felon or a hip-hop star, but as the leader of Belize’s opposition party seeking to improve relations between the two countries.
He met United States representatives from New York as he walked through the convention halls this month, a free man, and even reconciled with his former mentor, Combs.
Barrow is pictured after being arrested over a shooting incident where he was later deported to Belize
Jamal ‘Shyne’ Barrow was on his way to stardom in 1999 when he was arrested in connection with a shooting at a New York City nightclub. He is seen here leaving the Manhattan Supreme Court in March 2001
Born Jamal Michael Barrow in Belize City in 1978—three years before the country gained independence—Barrow moved to the Big Apple in the mid-1980s, while his father, Dean Barrow, served on the Belize City Council.
Both Barrows had a significant year in 1998, when Dean became the opposition leader of the Belize House of Representatives.
He took control of the weak conservative coalition known as the United Democratic Party, according to… Slate, while Shyne met Combs – then under the name “Puff Daddy” – and was offered a generous record label.
Combs was on his way to stardom in December 1999, having just released his self-titled debut album, which he decided to celebrate with Combs and Combs’ then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez at Club New York.
But Puff accidentally bumped into Brooklynite Matthew “Scar” Allen and spilled his drink, sparking a heated argument that ended with a wad of money thrown in Puff Daddy’s face.
In the end shots were fired and three people were injured.
Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs was also arrested but acquitted. Barrow, seen second from right, was charged with 10 years in prison
JLo, Puff and his bodyguard quickly fled but were pulled over for running a red light and arrested for stashing a gun in the getaway car.
Combs was subsequently charged with the shooting but was later acquitted, while Barrow was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assault and possession of a weapon. He has said he was defending himself, a position he still maintains, according to the New York Daily News. Lopez was not charged with the scandal but broke up with Combs shortly after.
In 2003, Barrow was removed from Combs’ Bad Boy Records, and a year later, Barrow publicly said that Combs had betrayed him.
Still, he continued to produce music while incarcerated — collaborating with Lil Wayne and Orthodox Jewish rapper Matisyahu, and concocting Puff Daddy in multiple lyrics — and even converted to Orthodox Judaism, under the name Moses Michael Levi Barrow.
He was released in 2009 but was promptly detained by immigration and customs officials and sent back to Belize “for a violation of immigration law,” Slate reports.
But by this time, his father led the UDP to victory in the 2008 elections and became the Caribbean country’s first black prime minister.
In April 2010, Dean named his son the country’s “musical goodwill ambassador” causing some controversy, until Barrow began organizing events for artists and founding new musical institutions using instruments he had donated himself.
He also continued to make music, participating in a 2016 Bad Boy Reunion Show in Brooklyn from his home in Belize via a live stream broadcast. Local media in the area at the time praised him for “bringing even more attention to Belize.”
In 2018, Barrow started a House campaign and gained the support of rapper Fat Joe and even his former enemy, Combs, who now goes by the name “Diddy.”
He won the November 2020 election with 53 percent of the vote, Slate reports, and ousted UDP leader Patrick Faber, who was in trouble after a video surfaced of him ranting at his 2-year-old daughter’s mother. . and the rapper formerly known as Shyne became the party leader.
Shyne converted to Orthodox Judaism while in prison, and has visited Israel ever since
He is now back in the United States, but this time as ambassador to Belize. He is pictured here Saturday at the 40/40 club in New York City with Jay-Z and Rudy Gay
This month he returned to the United States as a seemingly new man than when he left.
He met Combs on August 25, and in a video posted on social media, Combs said, “I’m in my bag now, crazy, I’ve got my brother here, the leader of the opposition in Belize, my brother Shyne. ‘
Barrow said the two “understand” in 2012 after talking on the phone and that they plan to meet in the future. Hot 97.
He also sought to improve relations between the United States and Belize while here, the Daily News reports, meeting with Congresswoman Gregory Meeks, of Queens, and Representative Adriano Espaillat, of New York City.
“I’m on official duty,” he told the Daily News. “I’m very focused on making connections that will benefit Belize in the short and long term.”
He said he is focused on boosting tourism to his home country and improving the lives of “marginalized and disenfranchised youth who have been convicted”.
“I don’t think any of us can be where we are without going through the process,” said Barrow, now 42. “Some of our processes are different. Some of our pain is different.
“I thought I was going to be a rap superstar entertainer and that would be the way I would help Belize,” he said. “But the architect of the universe had a different design.”
Barrow added that he’s “always been a leader” and “concerned about people,” even going back to that debut album where he raps about building schools instead of prisons. The album went platinum despite his arrest.
‘I was always very aware of the dilemmas that young people and families in the inner city face,’ he says. ‘I used my platform to draw attention to this.
“People would target the obscene language and the violence, but I was always aware and aware to use my platform to be a voice for the voiceless.
“I’m not going to be the 19-year-old kid I was,” he concluded. “I’m going to be a better version of myself. I have become who I always wanted to be.’