Former rapper-turned-Belizean politician Shyne set foot on United States soil this week for the first time since 2009, and Diddy and other friends who’d been lobbying for his return are celebrating.
The former Bad Boy artist, born Jamal Michael Barrow, was deported to his home country of Belize following his prison release in connection with a 1999 Club New York shooting that resulted in three people being wounded. Bad Boy founder Diddy, accompanied by then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, was at the center of the dispute in the club that turned violent, and was charged with four counts of illegal possession of a gun and one count of bribery for allegedly convincing his driver to claim Diddy’s weapon was his own.
The case went to trial in 2001, with Barrow and Diddy serving as co-defendants. Barrow — who apparently was defending Diddy the shooting started — was found guilty of five out of eight charges against him, while Diddy — represented by Johnnie Cochran — was acquitted of all charges. Barrow was sentenced to 10 years in prison and deported in 2009 after getting out early.
Barrow now serves as leader of the opposition in the Belize House of Representatives. He returned to America to “strengthen relationships and establish new relationships to further the development of Belize.” After arriving in Atlanta on Aug. 16, Barrow told Revolt that “It feels great to be in America representing Belize.”
“I’ll be meeting with Members of the U.S. Congress as well as State Senators and House Members to strengthen relationships and establish new relationships to further the development of Belize,” he shared of his plans. Wasting no time, Shyne met with Georgia House Rep. Erica Thomas, Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Council Omotayo Alli, and rapper Killer Mike within his first few days in the state.
Barrow envisions a more equal Belize for all of its citizens “which includes greater access to education, equal opportunities for wealth and health, reduction in crime for greater citizen security, and improved good governance so those of us elected to office to bring about the promise of better are held accountable to our oath.”
Shyne seemingly credited Diddy and Combs Enterprises Senior Advisor Corey Jacobs with helping him build the political relationships that allowed him to return to America with diplomatic status after 13 years away. “I’ve been reaching out to Corey Jacobs,” he said. “Reaching out to Diddy and many different friendships that I have to be able to make connections with my counterparts here in the States, in the State House of Representatives, the State Senate, as well as the United States Congress so that I could further the cause of Belize, strengthen the relationship between Belize and the United States.”
The specific nature and extent of the help that Shyne received from Diddy was not disclosed and may or may not have played an actual role in Shyne’s U.S. return, since procuring a diplomatic passport for any leader of the opposition is a “routine” procedure.
“The leader of the opposition, like any leader of the opposition is entitled to a diplomatic passport,” Eamon Courtenay, minister of foreign affairs in Belize, told Love FM radio hosts this week. “Honorable Barrow got a diplomatic passport, and, as he’s entitled to do, he requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a request of the United States of a visa for him. We do that on a routine basis for persons who hold diplomatic passports, and we sent it in to the United States, and the United States decided to grant him a visa.”