In the late 1980s, Shinehead was among the influential artists who pioneered the now common blending of dancehall reggae with hip-hop. Born Edmund Carl Aiken in Kent, England, he eventually settled in New York, where he made his bones among the Bronx’s sound system scene.
Shinehead’s acclaimed 1990 Elektra debut, The Real Rock, saw the versatile vocalist showing off his many skills, from crooning to rapping to toasting inna DJ stylee. Where other crossover artists were concentrating on hip-hop elements, Shinehead’s music accentuated the sounds and riddims of Jamaica, from raggamuffin to lover’s rock to straight-up reggae. Songs like “Strive” and “Good Things” were buoyant and rhythmic, with lyrical messages of positivity and social consciousness.
Shinehead followed up two years later with Sidewalk University, which included his most popular single, “Jamaican In New York,” a lighthearted remake of Sting’s “Englishman In New York.” He left the label in 1995 but remains a potent force in the genre he helped create, now known simply as “reggae fusion.”