SDM’s Benji Lovitt looks into Rapper SHYNE’s latest project with Oleh! Records and the King David Foundation

Earlier this year, we wrote about Shyne, the gangster rapper-turned-reformed hip hop star who managed to overcome his jail sentence to start his life over.  Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Shyne (formerly known as Jamaal Barrow) found himself in the middle of that now-famous bar shooting with Puff Daddy (now known as P. Diddy) and Jennifer Lopez.  (Don’t any rappers keep the same names?)  

While serving his sentence, Shyne legally changed his name to Moses Levi Ben-David, claiming that his entire life made it clear that he possessed a Jewish soul, not to mention his Jewish grandmother.  Lest anyone think that this was a PR move or only the latest celebrity to superficially embrace the Kabbalistic aspect of Judaism (see Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, etc.), think again.

Shyne’s latest move may be getting good PR but it’s anything but a stunt.  Along with Oleh! Records and the King David Foundation, the world’s most famous Orthodox rapper (we’ll call Matisyahu a reggae singer) has launched “Let’s Fill This Town With Musicians” to benefit local communities in Belize, his homeland.

Called a “peace corps type music program”, this project plans to bring Israeli musicians and music teachers to Belize to help keep underprivileged urban youth off the streets.  By providing music education to foster creativity, these kids can direct their energies into something productive rather than into street crime, violence, and drugs.  Aside from the fact that he was born in Belize City and that his father is the current Prime Minister of the country, who better to impart the lessons of “turning your life around through music” better than Shyne?

Ok, so we get it:  Shyne is Belizean.  But why would Israel send teachers halfway around the world?  Because that’s what they do, silly.  If you missed it, after the horrific earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Israel was among the first to respond in setting up a field hospital.  After the monstrous tsunami of 2005, Israel sent numerous forms of aid to help deal with both survivors and victims in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other countries.  There are numerous other examples of Israel helping other nations, even those with which it lacks diplomatic relations.

You think Canada, the US, and Europe are in financial straits?  Belize has a whopping 43% of its population living below the poverty line, and the overwhelming majority of children do not complete primary school.  To assist with the building of a state-of-the-art music center for this impoverished community which would not otherwise be able to provide for its children, Oleh! Records and the King David Foundation are also leading a fundraising campaign in hopes of raising $100,000 by January 1, 2012.

If you choose to donate, not only will you be giving to a good cause, but you can earn one of the following, contingent on the size of your donation:

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind a private concert in one of the most fun party cities on the planet.  Here’s to Shyne for helping to make the world a better place.