Tuesday, October 06, 2009
In celebration of Po's release today, I thought I'd up an interview I did with Shyne for the NME a few years back.
I got one of the last interview's with Shyne, via phone, before someone official said 'Er, why's this guy in prison doing press.'
It was a surreal experience, from being connected 'Do you accept this call from Clinton Correctional...' to the whole convo. A few months later I also interview Jah Cure, via phone, in jail. But that's another story.
Anyway, here's the interview from, I guess, 2005-ish.... (I've cut out the intro, cos we all now the story now, right? Shooting at a club with Puffy and J.Lo, Shyne was the only one to go down for it, and so on...) Oh, note he hoped to be out later that year, but it did end up being, as per his sentence, 2009....
Hi Shyne. How’s prison life treating you?
It’s living hell. I wouldn’t wish this on my worse enemy. It’s a nightmare. This is not the place you want to be. I don’t want to be in a place where somebody might stab me up today or tomorrow. I don’t want to be a place where people are facing 100 years of actual life and they have nothing to live for and they might want to take out their misery and their frustration on you. Do you want to be in a cage?
No, not really.
In here you have people buried alive - people are dead but their breath continues to move. That’s why I called my album Godfather Buried Alive. But I don’t sit here and contemplate the constraints everyday. I’m waiting on the appeal.
When do you hope to be released?
I should be out top of January 2005.
That’s a lot earlier than the date reported of 2009.
The reports haven’t been entirely accurate – 2009 is far off. Worst-case scenario that’s still far off, but I’m giving you 2005 as the best-case scenario.
Has being a rapper affected other inmates treatment towards you?
I’m not a rapper and I didn’t come here as a rapper. I didn’t come here because I had my bodyguard carry a gun so I could get on the front of The Daily News. I came here as a gangster. I came in here for shooting people. I came here for a real situation with some real gangsters. People that caused that Club New York situation were real gangsters from Brooklyn. I came here for allegedly shooting one of them and some innocent bystanders. That goes a long way in people’s perception of you and I carried myself in a dignified way. I’m not a rat and I mind my business. When I‘ve had to deal with situations in here, I’ve dealt with them swiftly and moved on. I been doing this my whole life. I was shot when I was 15. I’m from Church Avenue, Brooklyn and I’ve been known not as a rapper for my whole life.
Can you say what happened on December 27th 2001?
I can’t really get into that.
You’ve admitted having a gun, but do you still claim your innocence regarding the charges of reckless endangerment and assault?
Absolutely. I had to defend myself and in spite of me defending myself there is no forensic evidence that my bullets injured those people. The prosecutors alleged there were three other guns and there was no forensic proof that said my bullets injured those people. And the people themselves, the victims, one woman said ‘Puffy shot me’ and another guy said ‘Puffy shot me’ so their testimony and forensic evidence isn’t consistent with me injuring anyone. So there’s no proof that I shot anyone. The entire incidence was self-defence.
So you’re saying Puffy shot those people – not you?
As I said the prosecution said Puff had a gun. There was evidence that the people who started the incident had a gun…
Can you say why those men wanted to shoot at you and Puffy?
I can’t say; that was his (Puffy’s) situation. But I can say I had a gun because I was shot at a month before, at the studio, so that’s the reason I had a weapon. I was faced with bodily harm, I could have died that night (at Club New York) and I responded in turn. They could not tell who shot those people because the bullets remain lodged in the victims. They can’t tell if it was from my gun or the gun that they said Puffy had or the gun they said this guy had.
Do you mean ‘Scar’ Allen?
I’m not telling you who that is. There is no forensic evidence whatsoever that I was responsible for those injuries.
Do you feel you received a fair trial?
Well, no, I didn’t because my attorneys were being paid for by my co-defendant, so they were deferring to him. His thing was he couldn’t go to jail. But somebody had to go to jail because people were injured. It was an election year…You couldn’t have three people being shot and no one was going to go to jail. It couldn't be him so it worked out for him to have my lawyer's working for him because he was paying for them.
You’re referring to Puffy?
My co-defendant. Yes.
Puffy has stated that he offered you his lawyers, so why didn’t you?
That is categorically untrue. I’d be a fool not to take Johnnie Cochrane. And for him to offer me Johnnie Cochrane was not consistent with what he was trying to do. He was trying to make sure that he didn’t go to jail, but that didn’t include making sure Shyne didn’t go to jail. He didn’t care what happened to Shyne.
In the past you have labelled Puffy a snitch – can you define why you called him that?
He called a witness to testify against me.
Yeah. Although he didn’t get on the stand and say Shyne did it, he called the witness to testify against me and the witness was not testifying truthfully. You understand? So that’s snitching. And it’s the worst kind cos it’s one thing when you’re telling the truth, but it’s another thing to fabricate. It’s awful. I told them ‘Yo, this woman is lying,’ No one saw her where she said she was, the only person who said she was there was her. She just lied. And she made me look like a belligerent, incoherent, OK Coral cowboy. And that hurt me. And for my co-defendant to echo that sentiment, it destroyed me, underminded (sic) me completely.
So why did you refuse to tell your side of the story? Because you had to adhere to the so-called code of the streets?
It had nothing to do with rap, or with being a gangster, I just believe certain men are created honourably and the truth is I choose to live my life honourably. I chose to never sacrifice anyone in order to preserve myself or my success. It’s just not the way I’m created; it’s not in my DNA. I just couldn’t sell someone else in order for me to survive.
What will you say to Puffy when you next see him?
There’s nothing to say. I’ve moved on. My life is not predicated on anyone’s existence. I don’t blame anyone for anything. The truth is the truth. All I’m doing is setting the record straight with everything. I don’t sit here angry and bitter at this guy because I believe if it wasn’t meant to be this way it wouldn't have happened this way. This is a big country. Bill Clinton doesn’t have to meet with George Bush – we live in a big country. So I don’t see why I’ll have to see him again.
Surely you will. The hip hop industry isn’t that big.
But I’m not a rapper, that’s what I keep trying to tell you. There’s no perfunctory operation with me. I don’t go to hip hop clubs and I don’t need to be down with any hip hoppers. I’m an instrument that’s used to make music. I’m not into the music business like that.
50 Cent released a diss toward you - "I heard Irv (Gotti) trying to sign Shyne, so I don't got no love for him/ Tell him 50 said he's soft, he won't shoot up the club again." On one of the tracks leaked from your album you call 50 a snitch and a joke. Can you explain where this beef has come from?
Beef is a very strong word, it’s very strong. I’m not a rapper, so for him to have beef with me, that wouldn’t be a good thing for him.
What do you mean by that?
I mean beef is a serious word, people die because of that and I’m not involved in anything like that. I’m not out trying to kill anyone. So when you say beef that’s serious to me, it means someone is threatening my life. I’ve been through situations and you’ve seen how I responded. So I would hate to feel threatened and I don’t feel like that about any of these people cos they’re little kids to me and they’re rappers. In here I might have beef cos someone really tried to put a knife in my back, really tried to hurt me so that’s what I call beef. Not some guy who raps about my life, but who never did anything that he said he did. That can’t be beef.
Are you worried that you might face repercussions when you leave jail?
In this situation it’s not a comparison. They don’t really live that life, they’re just selling records; they’re just promoting an image. You know me – I really do that and I did that on the biggest stage. I have lived that life for real and in here I have to be like that cause it’s life or death. Somebody could take me out tomorrow. So when I go out there I’m not even thinking about those guys, they’re like little kids, they pose no threat to me.
What’s the first thing you intend to do when you leave prison?
Just go to the studio and lay down these ten albums I have in my mind.
If you could change anything about December 27th 1999, what would it be?
I would change that no people got injured. Although I wasn’t responsible for those injuries, I would change that no one got injured.
(Automated voice cuts in telling us we have 60 seconds left) Shyne, is there anything else you want to say?
Just know that I didn’t shoot anyone, I was defending myself. It was really a travesty. It’s important that people understand I don’t want to be a tough guy, I don’t want to be a bad guy – I was forced to protect myself, I was forced to carry a gun, I was forced to pull my gun. This is all organic, this is my soul and I’m grateful for all the good things. And destiny will prevail. Okay?