by Paul Cantor
Shyne’s musical output may have slowed down, but that hasn’t stopped the MC from furthering his religious practices.
In October, Shyne penned a journal for Rapfix, documenting his trip to Israel, writing “I just got off the plane and I’m standing in the center of the universe. I waited my whole life to be in the land of Moses, Joseph and a guy by the name of King David … I remembered last year I was locked in the Feds for 23 hours on the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah. In those dark days, making kiddush with a half a cup of Kedem grape juice saying “Shana Tova” with shackled hands and feet on a bus during Yom Kippur and fasting for 30 hours, I said ’Next year I’ll be in Jerusalem.’ ”
The rapper, who changed his named to Moses Levi while he was still in prison, is living life now as an Orthodox Jew. It’s a far cry from the rap lifestyle trappings most artists typically embrace, especially ones who’ve just been released from prison (see: Lil Wayne) but it’s not nearly as stringent as it might seem.
“Mr. Levi speaks in the style of the urban streets but combines his slang with Yiddish-accented Hebrew words and references to the ‘Chumash’ (the bound version of the Torah, pronounced khoo-MASH) and ‘Halacha’ (Jewish law, pronounced ha-la-KHAH),” writes Dina Kraft, in Wednesday’s New York Times. “There’s nothing in the Chumash that says I can’t drive a Lamborghini [and] nothing in the Halacha about driving the cars I like, about the lifestyle I live.”
Still, it seems Shyne has taken to embracing the discipline that comes along with following a religion in a rigorous manner. Not in the way many people do, where they claim to follow x, y and z religion but only practice it on days where it’s convenient for them.
“What Mr. Levi has moved on to since being released from prison last year is a life in which he is often up at daybreak, wrapping his arms with the leather straps of tefillin, the ritual boxes containing Torah verses worn by observant Jews for morning prayers,” Kraft continues. “Throughout the day he studies with various strictly Orthodox rabbis.”
She quotes Shyne, saying “What are the laws? I want to know the laws. I don’t want to know the leniencies. I never look for the leniencies because of all of the terrible things I’ve done in my life, all of the mistakes I’ve made.”
What do you think of Shyne’s transformation? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!