As much as rappers boast about keeping it real, hip-hop, like most music, is about creating a fictional world. When real life bleeds in, the results are often tragic, like the well-documented end of the feud between 2Pac and Biggie Smalls. In the late-1990s, Brooklyn, New York teenager Shyne (Jamal Barrow) was heralded by many as the latter's heir, but after drawing his gun and firing during an incident involving Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Shyne found himself behind bars until 2009 on an attempted murder rap.
With 2004's GODFATHER BURIED ALIVE, the gravel-voiced rapper's second record, Shyne finds his voice, rich, defiant, unrepentant, and powerful. On a self-titled track, Shyne boasts he's "gonna keep it gangsta 'til I die," and the rest of the disc backs up the claim. "Quasi O.G." tells his tale from a cleverly oblong perspective, relating the story with poetic panache and justifying the initial hype his rushed debut failed to capture. Shyne also finds a new angle to getting his digs in at his opponents on the enrapturing "For the Record." On GODFATHER BURIED ALIVE, Shyne proves that he owes his reputation to more than notoriety--he's a skilled lyricist capable of delivering powerful tracks.