Artist-Turned-Politician Shyne Takes On Colonial Slavemaster Britain

Former Bad Boy Records artist-turned-politician Moses “Shyne” Barrow has joined the chorus of voices calling for reparations from the British monarchy.

“Right now we’re in the midst of taking the United Kingdom to court for reparations,” Shyne said during an interview snippet that was shared on Twitter. “As we know in Belize, the Transatlantic Slave atrocity, the holocaust, is one of the worst things that has ever happened in humanity. The United Kingdom committed the worst crimes against humanity so there’s nothing glorious about the Queen as our head of state in any nation in the Caribbean.”

The “Bonnie & Shyne” MC was elected to the Belize House of Representatives in 2020 and is currently the Leader of the Opposition for the United Democratic Party. Though being a politician is Shyne’s second act, he was born into a family of lawmakers. His father, Dean Barrow, was elected Prime Minister of Belize in 2008.

Born Jamal Michael Barrow, Shyne was born and raised in Belize until he was 8 years old. He then moved to Brooklyn, New York, to be with his mother, where he was eventually discovered by a producer while freestyling in a barbershop.

Though he made a major impact in hip-hop, Shyne’s music career was cut short after he went to prison for eight years due to his involvement in an infamous 1999 altercation at a nightclub, which led to a shooting. Bad Boy founder Puff Daddy and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were also present, but Shyne was the only one convicted and imprisoned. He was deported in 2008 upon his release.

Shyne changed his name to Moses Michael Levi Barrow in 2006 after converting to Judaism. He is one of only nine members of visible African descent in the 31-member Belize House of Representatives, Breaking Belize News reported. The official act to sue the monarchy is called the “Reparatory Justice for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in British Honduras Motion.”

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In a separate statement, Shyne expounded on the reason reparations are needed in Belize.

“Іt іѕ nоt thаt thоѕе уоung mеn, thоѕе уоung wоmеn wаnt tо lіvе lіkе thаt. Вut wе hаvе tо rесоgnіzе thаt thеrе wаѕ а реrіоd іn thіѕ соuntrу аnd оthеr nаtіоnѕ whеrе реорlе wеrе fоrсеd tо bе аnіmаlѕ; thеу wеrе fоrсеd nоt tо thіnk,” Shyne said, describing the atrocities of the slave trade that still impact young people in Belize today.

“Іf уоu wеrе саught rеаdіng уоu wеrе kіllеd. Nоbоdу tаught thе реорlе іn Веlіzе whо wеrе brоught hеrе tо buіld Веlіzе. Nоbоdу tаught thеm tо bе frее, tо bе lаndоwnеrѕ, tо bе еntrерrеnеurѕ. Nоbоdу tаught thеm thаt,” Shyne added. “Аnd thаt іѕ whаt rераrаtіоnѕ іѕ аll аbоut. It’ѕ nоt аbоut ѕауіng hеrе’ѕ а соuрlе hundrеd mіllіоn dоllаrѕ, bесаuѕе уоu саn gіvе ѕоmеоnе а hundrеd mіllіоn dоllаrѕ аnd thеу wоuld ѕtіll bе рооr.”

Though Shyne was in Liberia when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Belize, he said if he were there, he would have asked them about reparations.

“I must say had I been here, I would have taken the opportunity to press William and Kate about reparations. They owe Belize and the Caribbean and all the nations that they colonized a vast amount of in financial reparatory considerations as well as an apology,” Shyne said.

“It is something that we need to consider when the so-called monarchs visit our country,” Shyne continued. “What is there to celebrate? When we get our reparations, the money that is owed to us, the apology that is owed to us and we become a republic and from the monarch, then we can celebrate. Then they can come as quasi-celebrities and vacate, but this entire prestige that is given to people who were enslaved, I guess everybody was not enslaved and I guess some of the people who weren’t enslaved feel, ‘Well, that has nothing to do with me,’ but it does.”

Photo: Jamal “Shyne” Barrow checks his phone as he walks down the street in Mea Sharim, one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Nov. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

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