The eagerly anticipated new chapter in the life and times of legendary RIAA platinum-certified rapper Shyne unfolds this week, with the release of “King David,” his first official new music on the Def Jam Recordings label in nearly seven years. The fiery track is scheduled to impact at Urban radio formats on April 11th, and go up for sale at iTunes the next day.
“King David” is the first single pick from GANGLAND, Shyne’s third album, set for May 17th release. To call GANGLAND ‘long-awaited’ is an understatement. It marks the artist’s first official major label long-player since the near-platinum Godfather Buried Alive, his Def Jam debut released in 2004, midway during his near-decade prison sentence which ended in October 2009. GANGLAND brings that chapter of Shyne’s life to a close, as he renews his commitments to social activism and community awareness on the local and international level. The new album has been described as “vintage Shyne,” with the distinctive baritone voice of the people that has made him a hip-hop juggernaut. GANGLAND presents a refined and sophisticated Shyne, talking about the dynamics and inner workings of a mind that is tormented by the nightmare of inner-city living.
One of hip-hop’s most unique and colorful players, with a journey that almost defies belief, Shyne has looked into the belly of the beast and lived to tell the tale. Born in Belize City, at age three he was left to be raised by relatives in a ramshackle section of town when his mother emigrated to the U.S. At age eight, Shyne joined his mother in Brooklyn, in the notorious Vanderveer Estates of East Flatbush, where he began to soak up hip-hop culture in the 1980s and ’90s.
Attending City-As-School, an alternative high school for gifted students, he sparred with students and teachers from every walk of life. His education continued at the New York City College of Technology. A chance meeting with a rap producer, who heard him freestyling in a Brooklyn barbershop, led to a high-profile signing with Bad Boy Records in 1998. Work began on his debut album, as Shyne’s name also began to appear on popular tracks by Total, Mase, and Puff Daddy himself. In December 1999, however, the 23-year old found himself on the wrong side of the law, sentenced to 10 years in prison for his highly publicized role in defending himself and his “friends” during a New York night club shooting.
Shyne, his self-titled debut album released in 2000, was an RIAA platinum million seller that has become a rap classic over the years. At least two tracks featured reggae star Barrington Levy, paying homage to their Caribbean roots. Serving his time at Dannemora, Shyne earned the respect of chaplains, other inmates and administrators. He was able to complete a second album, 2004’s near-platinum Godfather Buried Alive, and was finally set free in October 2009.
As a tireless ambassador from his homeland Belize, Shyne counts among his circle of friends Professor Charles Ogletree (of Harvard University, human rights activist and confidante of President Obama), and professor and journalist Dr. Baz Dreisinger (of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY). A major article on the front page of the New York Times Arts section in November 2010 paved the way for the completion of the GANGLAND album and Shyne’s re-introduction to his loyal audience.