NEW YORK — As Jamal “Shyne” Barrow’s Friday morning sentencing on assault, reckless endangerment and gun possession charges looms, the rapper said Thursday evening that he’s optimistic in the face of what he calls the hell and torture of jail.
Shyne called in from New York’s Rikers Island prison to the BET show “106th and Park” to thank his fans and explain how he’s spent his time behind bars counseling other inmates.
“I’m just trying to share with them what it took for me to survive and make it out of that jungle out there in the town,” he said. “Right now we’re in hell, we’re being tortured, but it’s not over — we can still get out of this.”
The 22-year-old rapper, convicted in March of shooting two people at a New York nightclub in December 1999, faces up to 25 years in prison.
But Shyne nonetheless plans to release his already-completed second album by the end of the year, according to a spokesperson, Cheryl Fox Spencer.
The album, to be titled Dear America, will focus on “the reasons, the factors behind the realities, political stuff, social issues and the people who really cause the problems which they say I cause, which they say the young black man cause,” Shyne said in a statement released Wednesday (see “Shyne Works On ’More Responsible’ Album As Trial Looms” ).
In interviews published after the trial, Shyne accused his former co-defendant, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, of betraying him, and he said he hoped to get out of his contract with Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment, the label that released his self-titled debut last year (see “Puffy, Shyne in Post-Trial War of Words.”
But Spencer said Shyne’s second album will be released on Bad Boy, or at least on its parent label, Arista Records. An Arista spokesperson could not confirm the album’s release, and a Bad Boy spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Another Shyne confidant, Bethann Hardison, whom Shyne calls his godmother, said Shyne has moved beyond his anger at Combs, who was acquitted of gun possession and bribery charges in the trial.
“All that stuff that came out … that’s passé, we don’t focus on that anymore,” Hardison said. “He’s in a very positive stage — he has to think very positively.”
Combs visited Shyne at Rikers several weeks ago, but Spencer — who accompanied Combs on the visit — said she didn’t know what the two men talked about.
Soon after the trial, Combs expressed support for Shyne. “He’s young, very talented. He’s definitely somebody whose life shouldn’t be wasted,” he said. “I don’t abandon anybody.”
Combs’ publicists said they expect the rap mogul to release a statement regarding Shyne on Friday morning.