The Belize-born and Brooklyn-bred transplant, who served nine years in prison for a nightclub shooting, said he has enormous respect for his predecessors, which makes him not so fond of the title “Black Music Month.”
“I hate the word ‘Black’ in that context,” he said to the Huffington Post. “I like to use ‘African Music Month,’ or ‘African-American Music Month,’ or ‘Afro-Caribbean Music Month.’ I really feel that it’s African music, that’s where it comes from.”
Shyne said his musical influences are vast and helped shape his life.
“I’m definitely a student of music, whether it be James Brown, or Nat King Cole, or Marvin Gaye, or Bob Marley,” he added. “So the history of Afro music, or African-American music, or however you phrase it, it’s all over popular music.”
“If you sit there and listen to Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On,’ he has a song that’s talking about voting,” Shyne said. “I have never heard anyone sing about voting and make it sound so good. He’s talking about ‘You have to vote for you,’ and it sounded like the coolest thing that you’ve ever heard. And that’s the power of music.
“That’s what Bob Marley did for me,” he added. “That’s what James Brown did for me. That’s what Wu-Tang did for me. They were all giving jewels. That’s what Nas did for me on ‘It Was Written,’ that’s what Jay (Z)did for me on ‘Reasonable Doubt.’ But that’s what music is about. Music educates, music uplifts, music inspires, music redeems. Music is therapeutic and it’s a very powerful, powerful thing.”
And he was not done. He added: “The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, The Beatles, and even Elvis worshiped artists like Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Sly & The Family Stone and all of those guys,” he continued. “So that’s the music that I be knocking; I don’t really be listening to all of that other stuff. I’m always listening to that nice, cool Al Green, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.”