Not many rappers craft their first LPs while facing 25 years in prison. But that was the case for Shyne and his self-titled Bad Boy Records debut, which dropped September 26, 2000, after a very challenging time. Shyne Po faced two major issues during the creation of his inaugural album. First, there was the matter of the Brooklyn MC’s deep-baritone voice, which drew comparisons to the late Notorious B.I.G.’s, a fact that angered some of Big’s most faithful supporters. Then, more importantly, there was Po’s attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and criminal-possession-of-a-weapon charges and eventual trial, stemming from a shooting at Manhattan’s Club New York, where Bad Boy label head Sean “Puffy” Combs was also in attendance.

Though Shyne began coming together at Daddy’s House Studio in 1999, before the Club New York shooting (the premier single, “Bad Boyz,” was recorded first), Po recorded most of the LP after his indictment. The gritty street album debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, standing strong among other top-10 rap albums released around the same time, such as Mystikal’s Let’s Get Ready, Nelly’s Country Grammar, Lil Bow Wow’s Beware of Dog and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP.

Ten years since its release, Shyne remains a truly remarkable album. To celebrate the disc's 10th anniversary, XXL gathered a few of the key creators to reflect on the Bad Boy classic. Ch-ch-cheaa.

Shyne: Brooklyn MC
Harve Pierre: Brooklyn executive, album A&R and Associate Executive Producer
Nashiem Myrick: Queens producer, member of Bad Boy’s Hitmen production team
EZ Elpee: Bronx producer
Mario “Yellow-Man” Winans: Detroit producer, member of Bad Boy’s Hitmen production team


1. “Dear America” produced by Shyne

Shyne: One day I was sitting there and I just came up with that shit. “Dear, America, I’m only what you made me, young, Black and fucking crazy, please save me. I’m dying inside, can’t you see it in my eyes…” So when Kanye is rapping [about] schools close, prisons open, I been talking that shit. Ya dig? And it was just from my gut, you listen to that intro you can’t tell that that’s not my hundred. So what better way to begin something I worked [on for] 20 years or in the making for 20 years [than] with that intro.

2. “Whatcha Gonna Do” produced by Dee Trotman

Shyne: I recorded that after I got bailed out, after the whole shit happened in the club. ’Cause that shit was official; [raps] “Whatcha gon' do when shit hit the fan, take it like a man, or snitch like a bitch.” And that’s what I told you, it’s not about, you know, you a rat because you a civilian or a law abiding citizen. It’s about how I go shoot the club up and now I’m saying, “Nah, it wasn’t me it was him.” Or them dudes down the block, they caught a body; if you let me go I’ll get ’em. That’s what we talking about. So when shit hit the fan you take it like a man.

3. “Bang” produced by Yogi

Shyne: It was one or two records that may have been suggested [that I do]. I think “Bang” was a suggestion. Umm, one or two, I’m trying to think of something else. But I think that was the only record that was a suggestion, that wasn’t a [beat] I picked [myself]. I picked everything, you know, “The Hit,” “Commission,” “Let Me See Your Hands,” “The Life...” I picked all that shit. “Spend Some Cheese” and “Bang” was the only records that I didn’t pick. That was suggested [to me]... But you know “Bang” was my shit.


4. “Bad Boyz” (Feat. Barrington Levy) produced by EZ Elpee

EZ Elpee: I made the beat in the crib in the Bronx on the MPC 2000. I made the beat for Lil’ Kim. She was on that Lil’ Kim thing and I was like, “Word?” Kim is picky as far as beats. I came from the era when Big was living. I used to just play beats for Big straight up. If Big picked it then that’s what it was. At that phase of the game she [Kim] was working on her second album. Puff was like her A&R and they was trying to go that umm... My shit, I guess didn’t fit in with the picture… I got [to the studio] right after the vocals were basically complete. From then we was going through the record like who would sound ill on here because we didn’t’ have no chorus.

Shyne: Harve Pierre gave that beat to me, that’s the A& R dude, been [at Bad Boy] forever. He gave me that beat, I think it was somewhere in the summer time like everyone goin ‘out to the Hamptons. Me and him in the studio cranking it out, it came up and right there and then like, “Yo, you know the reggae dude?”

Harve Pierre: Just the whole chemistry of adding that [reggae] element and [Barrington] to the song really enhanced it. He’s a great artist, Barrington Levy and just that combination of him and Shyne was just perfect.

5. “Let Me See Your Hands” produced by Shampelle p/k/a S&S

Shyne: So “Let Me See Your Hands,” DJ S&S produced that. I just like the energy on that. The flow on that was some other shit. [Raps] “Just post the bail so now I’m free/’Bout to get on the kitchen and cook a key.” Every record I did inspired me, moved me, and I loved it. Nobody got me to do anything. Even those two suggested [songs] I loved them joints... You do what a [beat] tells you. Back then I’m not gonna fuckin’ talk about doing a drive by on a record like that. I don’t think that’s what the record dictates. Again, even though we shootin’ shit up and doing all type of wild shit, we be in the club, too. We wanna rock. When that shit comes on we wanna throw our hands in the air. That’s where that shit started, Kool Herc, pluggin’ that shit into the light post and muthafuckas wavin’ their hands in the air. It wasn't a stretch for me. Obviously you go into that mode, when I was making that record imaging when I'm walking into the Tunnel like, “Yeah.”

6. “Gangsta Prayer” (Interlude) produced by Mario “Yellow Man” Winans

Shyne: Yeah, “Gangsta Prayer” was a part of the life. Muthafuckas I know pray before they carry a hit, they pray before they go pick them birds up, they pray as soon as they walk outside. Muthafuckas I knew was God fearing muthafuckas that just had to be in the life they was [in]. So for me “Gangsta Prayer” is, “The Lord is my shepherd, let’s get this coke measured.” Know what I’m saying? Like, I believe, man, but, yo, I gotta eat.


7. “The Life” produced by Nashiem Myrick, co-produced by Mario “Yellow Man “ Winans

Nashiem Myrick: “The Life,” Shyne basically already had written and he came to me and told me what kinda track he needed. What [beats per minute] and what the track was about. He already had the lyricism in mind I think. Then I just went home and created something along those lines… The beats I did for [Shyne] is made for his pocket. There is a certain pocket that each MC has, there is a certain rhythm and a certain mode that I listen to before I even listen to what he is saying or how his voice sound, it’s a pocket. So when I made the beats for Shyne, I made the beats for his pocket. He would come to me and say, “I would need this amount of beats per minute, about 78 beats per minute and I need it to be epic.” Then I’d go create and I’d do the drums. I made the whole soul of the beats in his pocket.

Shyne: “The Life” was—again, one of the things about my records was back then you couldn’t talk about it if you ain't live it. The era I grew up in was serious. The Jigga Man was really into that world that he was talking about. B.I.G. and them dudes were really puttin it in in Brooklyn. Snoop was really bangin' on the West Coast. Death Row was really on some mobster shit. The Wu was really from the slums of Shaolin. If you look back to that golden era of hip-hop, nobody was a liar. Even the dudes from Queens, they were really from the 'hood. Nobody was lying back then. Sure there was some creativity that you get a pass on, but overall everything was a thousand. So everything I’m talking is a thousand. When you listen to “The Life,” everything I’m talking is my life. When you look at when I say, “There’s rules to this shit and I couldn’t break ‘em/Death before dishonor until I meet Satan.” That’s the same shit that happened to me. I knew that was going to happen. I wasn't telling everybody what was happening between me and homeboy, but i knew what I was facing. When you listen to “The Life” that's just me presenting my honesty to the world.

8. “It’s OK” produced by Daven “Prestige” Vanderpool, co-produced by P. Diddy and Mario “Yellow Man” Winans

Shyne: Everything in my records is truth and honesty. The hands we were dealt, we played it, “It’s Ok.” I’m not gonna sit here and cry over the blood they forcing me to spill. This is what you said it's gonna be I’ma find a way to get it and it’s alright. I’ma smoke my refer, drink my liquor, fuck my broads and drive my car and I’ma celebrate this shit. That’s what that song is basically.

9. “Niggas Gonna Die” produced by The Neptunes

Shyne: I love that song, that’s one of my favorite songs... I remember that’s when Pharrell was running around trying to sell beats. And you know he was always fuckin’ powerful to me he always had that shit. I knew he had that shit. He was doing a gang of shit he was doing Nore shit, he was doing a lot of fly shit. And I think he was trying to get some beats off I said, "What up, man? What you got?” And he hit me with that shit. That was it, I love that record... He loved that record, too. At least that’s what he said then, you know now he’s a big shot so he might not remember, but those were the old days. But I remember I was fuckin’ with some chicks that he was fuckin’ with and they was like, “Yo, that’s the only fuckin’ record he’s been playing for the last couple days, he loves that record. That’s all he talks about is Shyne.” So he gave me that one.


10. “Everyday” (Interlude) produced by Shyne and Harve “Joe Hooker” Pierre

Shyne: My homegirl Chelsea and Nia, that was the cool chicks who were in the studio wilding out. One thing about me, if you looking for honesty you gonna get more than what you bargain for. That’s how girls talk, if you ain't piping ’em right they gonna go tell their friends. If you blowin’ ‘em down , they gonna tell their friends. That’s how it is in the streets.

11. “Bonnie & Shyne” (Feat. Barrington Levy) produced by Chucky Thompson

Shyne: I wanted Usher on that record. I had a whole different hook idea for that record. But what happen was when Harve got Barrington Levy to sing on the “Bad Boyz” shit I guess he freestyled and threw him on that and muthafuckas loved it. And when muthafuckas get into something it’s hard to be like, “But hold on…" It wasn’t a matter of taking [Barrington] off [of the record], it was a matter of, Yo, everybody saying this shit is crazy, I’m on my coconut shit anyway, so whatever we can ‘G’ with it.

Harve Pierre: [Using Usher] was just really a thought. Barrington Levy was all the way in Jamaica and he was knocking out different stuff for us. So basically once he did it, it was a done deal. There were probably several thoughts for that song, but Barrington Levy, he just fit it perfect.

12. “The Hit” produced by EZ Elpee, co-produced by P. Diddy & Mario “Yellow Man” Winans

Shyne: That was crazy. I’m more of a community activist, my life of crime is behind me. Back then that was the shit that I was really on. We were really on it like that. I don't know what the statute of limitations is so, that might have really happened. That's how we was really putting it in. That really happened. I don't make records that graphic anymore because when I started making those records in the studio I might’ve just came from shooting somebody. I might’ve just came from doing what “The Hit” said. “The Hit” was [recorded] after the arrest... That did become an issue at trial they tried to use my lyrics and say how violent they were, but this is the United States of America.

EZ Elpee: That record, I wasn’t around the whole damn session and I walked in on it like, “Wow, he picked this beat.” And he just told a story on it. It was crazy. That was more my favorite on a hard level. I made that for him. I basically made something that I’d want Big to rhyme over.


13. “That’s Gangsta” produced by P. Diddy & Mario “Yellow Man” Winans

Mario “Yellow Man” Winans: Puff came to me with the sample from the “Misdemeanor” joint. He was like, “Yo, I think we need to flip this for Shyne.” I flipped it up and Shyne got on top of that joint and killed it. I think it fits him because it had a personality to it. [The beat] was tough enough to hold what Shyne was gonna bring to it. We knew the D.O.C. joint and the similarities were going to be there because [the beat] wasn’t that much different. I just had to add my flavor to it and make it fit the Bad Boy sound.

Shyne: With “That’s Gangsta,” the only pressure [I faced] was going to jail for 25 years. Following D.O.C. was no pressure. With the music I had to be great no matter what record I did. The type of barriers put up against me, people were only gonna love me if i was great... Thank God D.O.C. loved it. We had D.O.C. in BK shooting the video.

14. “Spend Some Cheese” produced by Mario “Yellow Man” Winans & P. Diddy

Shyne: “Spend Some Cheese” was just a different beat that was a dip into dexterity. I just really fucked with that beat, it gave me a different flow, a different vibe. I’m spitting some shit with a different flow and vibe is just ridiculous. I knocked that out. That flow came out right away. This was [recorded] post arrest. All the records that made the cut with the exception of “Bad Boyz” and one or two others is post arrest. I had to fight to get back in the studio because [Bad Boy’s former parent company] BMG wanted to drop me. So if you give me a beat, I’m going in. I was in the studio all day, I ate in the studio, slept in the studio, showered in the studio.

Mario “Yellow Man” Winans: When he told me he picked that joint, I was like, “Wow.” And once he spit on it he came from such another angle, it was mind-boggling to me. Puff was like, “You need to make more joints like this.” I was really impressed with how he came on it.


15. “Get Out” (Feat. Slim from 112) produced by Yogi

Shyne: “Get Out” is the worst. That’s like one of the most misogynistic records ever. [Laughs]. I was wildin’, I was running down on the broads... That's like the only record. I think I’m gonna release a 10th anniversary record, [and] I think I’ma take that off. When you’re young, dumb and full of cum—that’s that young shit. I don't teach that to my little dogs. We ain't emotional, we ain’t tryna marry nothing, but I fuck with my broads. I wanna create Assata Shakurs, Angela Davis’. I can’t say that I’m Bobby Seale or George Jackson and slut my broad out. I ain’t no suckas for love, but I ain’t gonna let no broads take advantage of me. But again it’s just ways to go about shit.

16. “Commission” produced by Nashiem Myrick

Shyne: Nashiem did that shit. When he did that shit I was like, “Ooo, wee.” I made music based off of my life and my experiences. Music is the soundtrack to your life. When that “Commission” beat came on that just inspired what you heard me say. It wasn't just like sitting there writing a rap to that. All that emotion came out. “Pop, pop, pop warning shots who to blame, Shyne muthafucka dont forget the name” [continues to rap the entire verse]... That's the truth, man. What better way to end the record than that.?

Nashiem Myrick: Well, I was around for part of “Commission” when he laid some of the vocals down. In his art, in his music, in his entertainment, he could take that liberty. Nobody could go back and say he said that in his lyrics, so it must be true. It’s entertainment. You could hide in a rumor or tell the truth, you can deal with that directly in your art. Him saying that, he wasn’t on the stand saying he didn’t shoot. He was just saying, who’s to say my shots hit who. Basically he’s telling the truth.