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The Curious Case Of Moses Michael Leviy

What more can be said about Shyne that the hip-hop Internets hasn’t said already? His career has had more false starts than a deaf track & field runner. A once-talented lyricist, his (supposedly purposely) altered voice now spotlights an atrophied washout. No commercial viability at this point. Yet after spending the past decade in prison and being promptly deported back to Belize upon his release, LA Reid chartered a private jet to Shyne’s homeland and signed him a multi-million dollar deal. And this happened despite Shyne not having released a proper album of original work in over five years.

I’m sorry, what?

If anything, I can’t be mad at Shyne for doing what he did. The man spent his twenties sharing showers and eating disgusting food in a federal prison with the likes of Fleece Johnson. I’ve never been to prison (and I never want to go/plan on going), so I can only imagine how things could be in there. Inmates are treated like slaves, animals and – in some cases – currency. I’ll admit: I’m not built for a vacation sponsored by the feds. I’m relatively skinny, and my locks are too long for it.

Where was I? Oh yes…

In Shyne’s eyes, coming home to seven figures for doing virtually nothing is too good of a deal to pass up. I’m sure anybody in his shoes would do the same. My concern, however, is what LA Reid was thinking of when he pulled off this stunt. Despite being instrumental in the careers of OutKast and Usher while running LaFace, his track record hasn’t been as spotless once Jay-Z bounced from Def Jam—after bilking them for all it’s worth—and he took over a few years ago. While he’s seen success with Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo and Rihanna among others, his track record with rap hasn’t been as flawless, with only one platinum album, a handful of gold albums, and crates of unsold Ace Hood CDs to his name.

My guess? Reid saw Shyne as possibly a last-ditch effort to appease his overlords and convince them to continue to employ, despite the fact he can’t even produce a chart-topping rap artist – much less offspring – successfully (look at his son Aaron; need I say more?). And after seeing Shyne – who was obviously as desperate as Reid was in regards to saving his own career – Reid became convinced that he would be the savior of his tenure at Def Jam. And this was all before he heard Shyne’s voice that, at best, sounds like a broken garbage disposal unit. I’m pretty sure he’s kicking himself in the ass now each time Shyne aurally violates our eardrums with his latest musical output.

The person I feel bad for the most, though, is Shyne. Most of us may not know the exact ins and outs of the music business, but we’ve all seen so many artists get the shaft over the years that we have some sense of what’s a Montreal Screw Job and what’s not. And in Shyne’s case, prison may end up being better than Def Jam. At least financially, that is.

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