Combat Jack: How Shyne Might Save Def Jam

11 years ago view-show 817,245


I wrote a piece on Shyne some time ago.  About his past rise and fall. I’m glad he’s finally out of that jail cell. Plus how he has a great opportunity to mend the rift between him and his father. Not too keen on how he got deported, but maybe it was for the best, especially with his father having all types of governmental connections in Belize. I’m sure you’ve read how he got signed to Def Jam, reportedly for some big numbers.

Label head LA Reid flew out to Belize to conduct the signing, plus to stand aside Shyne to take some photos. Shyne’s a good dude, very talented too. Most importantly, he’s got a hell of a story to tell. I’d love to hear what exactly what went through his mind that fateful night he decided to pull out in that Club New York club. And how he managed to keep his head up when he was locked up for all them years. His feud with 50 Cent, and whether it still exists. All of that. Still, and not shitting on dude, I’m surprised Def Jam paid a hefty price tag for his deal, surprised also that the resulting deal was fueled by a bidding war between labels.

10 years ago, a deal like this would’ve made some kind of sense. Deals came bigger, bidding wars were the norm, and even though the quality of music, specifically rap, had already been severely in decline, records still sold. Even bad ones. We all brought them. Every Tuesday. Like clockwork. These days, not so much. Maybe if you’ve got a tried and tested established artist like Jay-Z, Kanye, or Sade, then a deal of this stature makes sense. Even an artist like Drake, the hottest new artist out, then okay. Shyne’s not that new. And as much as he’s still respected by some fans, his recent performance on that DJ Khaled track a few weeks ago was anything but hot. Plus, even when he was a top figure in rap’s media, his first self titled album sold over 500,000 units back in 2000, a lot of records by today’s standards, but just breaking the ice at a time when selling over a million copies was required to be considered part of rap record selling royalty.

Def Jam always wanted to sign him, they were greatly responsible for the initial bidding war. Maybe they felt like they didn’t want to lose out on dude twice. Plus, for someone who’s been away for so long, he has done a good job of keeping his name in people’s mouths, albeit unintentionally. And if he indeed receive anything in the area of one million dollars ($1,000,000), I’m almost certain the lion’s share didn’t go directly to him as an advance. Being that he’s unable to record  here in the states, he’ll be doing most of his sessions in London. That’s a lot of flying to and fro between Belize and the UK, and for Def Jam execs to be present in both countries. Promoting dude from a remote country won’t be cheap either. A lot of money will have to go into the costs of making his next album. Hopefully Shyne and the label cat helming this project have the foresight to go in with the intention of making more of a global oriented album, as opposed to one highlighting the ups and downs of US ghetto life. As much as I’d like to cast this deal off as being a FAIL on Def Jam’s part, the more I think of it, I can’t easily call it. After their first flop of an album, The Fugees won, greatly because of how it appealed to a wider audience beyond our borders. Shyne isn’t an American citizen. Then again, ‘The Score” was a hell of an album. And Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean proved to be talented by the Haitian refuge boatloads. Pras, not so much. If Shyne’s next album is more pop oriented, (think guest artists Carlos Santana, Sade, The Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Lady Gaga) he might end up selling. Shaggy was able to pull it off, coming from being a straight dancehall artist to going beyond his box and striking gold as an incredibly successful world pop act. Plus, seeing how Shyne is rocking that big ass hat in the pic above in an un-very gangster like manner, maybe he’s with me on this global, introspective pop thing.

I can’t call it. But if Shyne is open to going in a different and unexpected direction,  a long shot in the least expected manner may save him. Plus have Def Jam recouping it’s loses. From what I hear, they’re some kind of desperate, especially with all the layoffs they’ve been going through. If Shyne sticks to type and raps solely about being a vindicated gangsta, I’m thinking this might be one of Def Jam’s worst deals to date. Regardless, I looking forward to, and hoping for the best for my dude, he’s already been through hell and deserves a second chance at redemption. And success.

Then again, what do I know?