Hip Hop Rap Icon Shyne Emerges as Compelling, Evolved Artist on his Gangland 12th Anniversary Album
February 22, 2013
Platinum selling recording artist, world traveler and celebrated hip hop icon Shyne (Moses Michael Levi) continues to make his presence known in the pop and hip hop world light with his recently released 12th anniversary album, Gangland , on his own Gangland Records. The 18-track album represents a significant musical leap forward for the idolized rapper, who had been out of the limelight for several years but has been working full speed ahead on his music during the past two years.
"I'm still talking about life on the streets, but I've traveled a long way since my days in Brooklyn," he says, "and this is clearly reflected in Gangland. "It's my most musical album to date and the vision is broader." says Shyne.
Shyne's intent for the album was to present a more contrite and conscientious perspective about the life he had been describing in his first two albums. "It's more of a reflection on how I made the decisions I made," says Shyne. "Gangland is more intellectual and introspective. It's an in-depth look at how I came to do the things I've done."
To stream or download the album, please visit http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/19021/shyne-gangland.html.
For Gangland, Shyne worked with a who's who of hip hop producers. The track listing is:
1. Shhhhh (produced by Young Lord)
2. King Of NYS (produced by Odds and Ends)
3. BG (produced by Omega)
4. Frank Mathews (produced by David DA Beats)
5. Youre Welcome Skit
6. Youre Welcome (produced by Danja)
7. Bobby Seale (produced by Phoenix)
8. Meyer Lansky featuring Pusha T (produced by Hebrew Hustle)
9. Can I Live featuring World Kin Folk (produced by the Olympick)
10. Fred Hampton (produced by Omega)
11. King Judah (produced by Kojak)
12. Buffalo Soldier (produced by RZA and Kojak)
13. The Roller Song (produced by Young Lord and J Kits)
14. 50Life (produced by Arthur McArthur)
15. The Original (produced by Omega)
16. Dope Boy Fresh (produced by Rich Skillz)
17. Super Doll (produced by Rich Skillz)
18. King David (produced by Omega)
19. Selected Track Descriptions
This track is Shyne's personal reflection on the hypocrisy in the streets, from rappers who create mythological gangster self-images to gang bosses such as Larry Hoover who parade as community leaders while running their criminal empires behind the scenes
Shyne references the infamous yet celebrated Brooklyn crime boss Frank Mathews, while describing the fatalistic attitude of forgotten young people who see drug dealing as the only way out of poverty. He reflects on the ironic situation of drug bosses-they know they're ruining lives while they make their money, but they also are giving back by contributing to charitable causes in their community. The way out of this is for America to help the youth, not to judge them.
There are two sides to every story and, on this track, Shyne makes the case that what really happened in the 1999 NYC nightclub shooting incident, which sent Shyne to prison for nearly ten years, is still an untold story. Shyne references infamous drug lords Alberto "Alpo" Martinez and Rich Porter to remind us there is no honor among thieves.
Shyne titles the song after murdered community activist and Chicago area Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, who was wrongfully targeted by a reactionary FBI in the 1960's. Shyne makes the case that deal making may be a bigger priority in our criminal justice system than justice itself.
Shyne spent an extended period in Jerusalem after his release from prison. In this Middle Eastern styled song, he brings forth imagery of his and others' lives as incarcerated African American men while he rejoices in his newly found freedom and his determination to be a healer, a giver and a leader.
In this track Shyne takes a cue from hero Bob Marley to speak out on the state of the so-called "Post-Obama" era. What does "Post-Obama" mean, he asks? Are we reaching out to our impoverished youth or simply condemning them? Are government leaders worrying about their pocketbooks instead of justice? And he explores the paradox of self-made drug lords: Should they be blamed for enjoying the good life when they've grown up with nothing-or should we call them out for turning their backs when they should be giving back?
This haunting track puts Shyne in the shoes of the millions of urban young people stuck in the mire of poverty and isolation. The protagonist's despair and frustration is a warning to us all: things must change. When the game is rigged and people have nothing to lose, breaking the law is not a good thing or a bad thing-it's simply the way to survive.
Shyne's long exile in prison began with a single moment. In an instant, his life changed forever. This song shares his regret but reminds us that there may have been some good, too. Good that still isn't acknowledged by those who were part of it. Nevertheless, he reiterates his desire to put it behind him and move forward with his life.
The context for Gangland
Gangland was released exactly 12 years to the day of the release of his first album, Shyne. Back then, as a 19-year old newcomer, his talent was clearly recognized by many, including his mentor, Sean Combs, on whose label the album was released. But no one expected his debut album to garner such acclaim and do so well commercially. Shyne went Platinum (more than 1 million copies sold) and reached number five on the Billboard Magazine Pop Chart and number two on the Billboard Hip Hop chart.
His second album, Godfather Taken Alive, on Combs' Bad Boys Records, was released in 2004. It is an extraordinary achievement that he was able to negotiate the record deal, complete and release the album while in prison. The album reached number 5 on the Billboard Pop Chart and number 2 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Chart, and has nearly reached Platinum status.
During the past dozen years Shyne has been mostly out of the limelight, but he has remained among the most recognizable artists in hip hop. He continues to be highly respected in the hip hop world and is referenced on notable albums from Combs, Kanye West and Jay-Z. He also has been a featured guest on albums from such artists such as Mase and Kanye West.
In 2013, Shyne is an evolving artist whose world view and musical vision have matured since the days of his first two albums," he says. "I see things through a broader perspective. As I grow as a person, my ability to transmit my experiences to the audience grows as well. "I've made mistakes in my life that I'm not proud of, and my goal as an artist and human being is to help other young people avoid making bad decisions that can change the course of their lives. I'm all about compassion, tolerance and the strength of the human spirit."
Shyne spends much of his time in Paris, Belize and Jerusalem and devotes many hours to the recording studio. He constantly seeks out opportunities to promote Belize. "I'm working to see it rise from a poor, third-world country to a thriving, developing country," he says. "It's a long-term project and I'm in it for the long haul."
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Editor's Note: Shyne has been featured in several high profile media outlets during the past two years, including CNN, The New York Times ("Rapping and Praying, In Equal Measure", 11/11/2010), Los Angeles Times ("Cultural Exchange: Shyne goes from New York to jail to a new life in Israel," 6/26/11), Rolling Stone Magazine ("Top Ten Rockers Who Found God," November 2010 ), USA Today and Washington Post ("Rapper Shyne Resurrects His Career in Holy Land," November 2010) and BBC News . His story is compelling and enlightening and relevant to today's issues regarding gun violence and drugs. He would be pleased to share his thoughts on a wide range of topics related to his music and his humanitarian work. He is available for remote interviews and video remotes. To arrange an interview, please contact Cindy Kurman or Lee Barrie at Kurman Communications, Inc. They can be reached by telephone at (312) 651-9000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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