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November 18th, 2010
03:58 PM ET

Bad boy rapper Shyne goes kosher

Editor's Note: CNN's Kevin Flower files this report on CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.

It's late afternoon in Jerusalem and Moses Levi is making one of his frequent visits to the Western Wall.

"They say this is where the presence of God is," Levi says as he ambles across the plaza of Judaism's holiest site, a mere stone's throw away from Islam's sacred al-Aqsa Mosque.

"That's why you have Muslims here, Christians here, and obviously you have the Israelites here.  When everybody disagrees about everything, they agree about one thing:  that this is where they need to come to pray."

Like many of the worshippers there, he is dressed in traditional garb – a silver-striped silk robe, black knee-length pants, a white knit skullcap, and specially knotted fringes dangling from the sides of his legs.

In many ways, Levi is indistinguishable from the thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews who call Jerusalem home.  The only hint of something unusual is the Kurt Cobain T-shirt he wears under the robe, the black Ray-Ban sunglasses, and the signs of recognition on the faces of tourists passing by.

Levi is, in fact, far from your standard ultra-orthodox adherent to the Jewish faith.

He was born in Belize as Jamaal Barrow, the out-of-wedlock son whose father is now the country's prime minister.  At the age of seven, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his mother, and grew up in a hardscrabble urban setting.

It was on the streets of Flatbush that Levi took up rhyming, eventually becoming the hard-core gangster rapper known as "Shyne."  The up-and-coming hip-hop artist's career came to an abrupt halt after a 1999 New York City nightclub shooting incident also involving rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs and his then-girlfriend, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Israel • Judaism • Kosher

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. mnslick

    this is the same guy that actually did the shooting in that jennifer lopez-sean combs thing a while back

    November 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  2. Jessica (MN)

    Keep it real, Shyne! I love ur music!

    November 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  3. Jessa

    Remnants in the Desert from over 3,000 years ago??? Not Possible. 3,000 years of sandstorms and 100+ degree heat and you will never find anything in a desert. But there is records in the hyroglyphics, and in rare coins of the Israel Museum.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Melanie

    The Book of Moses tells of a man with all his flaws and struggles, punishments, problems, never becoming king, and never entering the promised land due to being punished. If the story of Moses was NOT true, than he would have written all kinds of glorious things about himself, how perfect he was, that he became a king who conquered many nations, never was punished by G-d, entered the promised land– but he didn't- he wrote the truth, warts and all. That's how you know it's the truth.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    @CNN

    Where are the "good" stories?

    November 19, 2010 at 9:19 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @David Johnson
      You don't need good stories, you need fundies! We get'em by the bucket-full when CNN posts a blog article on the main page.

      Good stories, forsooth! 😯

      November 19, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  6. David Johnson

    So, if he has "gone kosher", how does he have to prepare his bacon and eggs? Just wondering.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  7. Colin

    What a waste of time. He should dedicate his life to something productive and tangible instead of fairytales, even if it means going back to music.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  8. @Lil_Reese

    Did they say Shyne is the Prime Ministers son hum is Shyne black r Arab? He still the boy hate how Diddy did him tho.

    November 19, 2010 at 3:15 am |
  9. Kurt

    I love the Kurt Cobain shirt he's wearing. Shyne is a joke and his music is pure garbage. He's been trying to claw his way back into relevancy for a couple months now. Ask 50 Cent how that turned out for Shyne.

    November 19, 2010 at 2:59 am |
    • Tim

      But Shyne DID wreck 50 on the one track, "I'm a reunite you with ya moms"

      November 21, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  10. peter klika

    Why give validity to this obvious publicity stunt. This is his publicist's exploitation of a religious tradition to grab a cheap headline. Why does the media always fall for this type of phoney "event" and worship these people who don't deserve to be worshipped. Are we really this superficial, naive, and insecure that we would really buy into this? No wonder the world thinks American culture is a sad joke. Peter Klika, Kapaau, Hawaii far from our celebrity crazed superficial culture. Aloha

    November 19, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  11. howie

    let's see what he does.

    November 19, 2010 at 1:46 am |
  12. OK

    Wonders will he ever confess that he took the fall for Sean Combs.

    November 19, 2010 at 1:14 am |
  13. CraigFerguson

    That's weird. Usually the inmates convert to Judaism for the freshest prison food. Guess he really liked it.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  14. Tsshhh

    Bad boy rapper? Are you serious? Get out of here. Rhyming and acting rude, tough and inconsiderate make you a putz, not a saint.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:23 am |
  15. Mike Sk

    Shock is the word! To think that Shyne is a Orthodox Jew I still have his Bad boy track on my Ipod. At the time he was jailed he had one of the best flows in the game. To see this story I think the hip-Hop world is stunned. Hip-Hop and judism are very strange bedfellows don't know if this will really make a dent in the hip-hop world.

    November 19, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • edoll

      Beastie boys?

      November 19, 2010 at 2:33 am |
    • Xgirl360

      Matisyahu? He's a Hasidic Jew and a Reggae singer. And, AWESOME. Anyway....rap isn't about the "gangsta life" its about expressing emotions, ideas and society. There are Muslim Rappers, Hindu Rappers, Buddhist Rappers.....I don't see anything strange in it....

      November 19, 2010 at 3:07 am |
    • Jessica (MN)

      Matisyahu IS awesome! They never play him on the radio here. He's not "mainstream" enough, I guess.

      November 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  16. Amber

    who is this guy?

    November 18, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  17. DanteX

    And I should care about this WHY?

    November 18, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • Veritas

      You tell us. You're the one who went to the trouble of not only reading the story but then commenting on it. The headline pretty much said it all and yet you clicked on it, read the story, then left a comment. Strange.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  18. Reality

    If only the Orthodox Jews and their rappers would evaluate the reality of their religion as have the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis. A synopsis of the Conservative Jews' New Torah for Modern Minds:

    "Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "litany of disillusion" about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    November 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • reply

      yawn

      November 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • what DO you believe in?

      I'm guessing you have an empty life...

      November 19, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • David

      Meh, @"Reality" is just a troll who frequents religious articles on CNN. Don't pay him much mind.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:36 am |
    • Truth

      You don't believe in Santa Claus? I'm guessing you have an empty life.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:29 am |
    • Shaman

      Reality – Moses existed. The Exodus happened. There is solid archaeological evidence of it all. You are clueless.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:33 am |
    • Reality

      Obviously, many of you believe that you have researched Jewish history and archeology to the same extent as the experts who wrote the New Torah for Modern Minds. For those who want to check for themselves, you can buy a copy of "Etz Hayim." from Amazon.com

      November 19, 2010 at 8:58 am |
    • Colin

      @Shaman

      You can so easily say that, but I would propose you share with us anything to back up your empty claims. And I mean empty as in science ( real archeology) has located nothing of the sort.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:04 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Shaman

      Reality is correct. Archeologists have looked long and hard. No evidence whatsoever that the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years. There were some slaves that exited Egypt, but they weren't Jews. There is evidence for these.

      Sorry.

      Cheers!

      November 19, 2010 at 9:12 am |
    • Melanie

      The Book of Moses tells of a man with all his flaws and struggles, punishments, problems, never becoming king, and never entering the promised land due to being punished. If the story of Moses was NOT true, than he would have written all kinds of glorious things about himself, how perfect he was, that he became a king who conquered many nations, never was punished by G-d, entered the promised land– but he didn't- he wrote the truth, warts and all. That's how you know it's the truth.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • Daniel

      The Conservative (& Reform) movements are recent inventions of the 19th & 20th centuries. We Jews did well with observing Torah and Mitzvot for 3,300 years, often giving up our lives to uphold what was given to 3,000,000 men, women, and children on Mt. Sinai. Not to 1 "prophet" int he woods. An entire nation. Being G-dly means we BELIEVE what is written inside.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  19. reply

    i cant stand that kid on the toyota highlander commercial.

    November 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Thomas in Vancouver

      ??????!

      November 19, 2010 at 5:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.