Former Born Jamerican hits home with new EP
CONTEMPORARILY, THE blend of hip hop and reggae sounds is popular and highly sought after. But that wasn’t the case when Edley Shine first entered the music business decades ago. Born Jamericans, a ‘90s duo comprising Edley and Norman ‘Notch’ Howell, were born actual Americans. They had strong connections to Jamaica through their parents; however, the pair struggled for respect from local industry players with their avant- garde approach to fusing hip hop and dancehall.
Twenty years later, Edley believes he has righted himself enough to get back in the game, especially in this modern musical climate that has become more open to multicultural expressions. On April 17, Edley will release Babylon Breeze (produced by Roe Summerz), the leading single from his long-awaited EP, Based On Talent. “This new project is a culmination of what I’ve done in the past, growing in the music and observing where dancehall and Afrobeats is, and incorporating that and showing people that the yute in Born Jamericans weh yuh think the business cook up, actually has something to offer the genre,” Edley told The Gleaner.
Signed to Delicious Vinyl, Born Jamericans were together from 1993 until 1998. Upon signing the contract, Born Jamericans’ first stop was Jamaica. But no one rolled out the welcome mat for the Caribbean culture enthusiasts. “When we just came out, they had this thing called ‘don’t twang inna yuh music!’ Some Yankee bwoy ah come try do dancehall? If there was a big producer in 1993, we went and knocked on the door. And every door was closed. They didn’t understand what we were trying to do. It was avant-garde at the time,” Edley said.
Rejected, Born Jamericans went back home to compromise. Howell’s father was a bass player, and Edley’s uncle owned Emperor Sound, established in Washington, DC but now based in Harbour View. “Being of that influence, we said since we’re around hip hop all the time, and we know about all these Studio One, Treasure Isle, Coxsone Dodd riddims, mek we blend the two and come up with our own sound. People could have hated or loved it. They ended up loving it.”
He continued: “We were releasing songs that became popular. Our first song was Boom Shak Atak. The video was filmed in Jamaica at Club Gemini. That was the first time I ever went downtown, to Orange Street.”
Success is sometimes fleeting, so Born Jamericans eventually went their separate ways. By Edley’s determination, the group’s popularity eclipsed the business. It became a trial to get the same attention from producers as a solo act.
But these days are different. “We were a group based in America doing reggae, hip hop and dancehall. But now it’s popular to have Americans use slang. You hear it in everybody’s music now and it’s normal. Back then, we were criticised for that. Now, everything is kind of balanced out.”
With a day job in computing to finance his unquenched passion, Edley is ready for his encore. “This has been a 20-year process of me making songs, working with different producers. It’s taken me 20 years to be able to have enough resources to film my own videos and do my own thing. It’s taken me this long to have a body of work that I want to present in a professional manner. All doors were closed, so I had to create my own opportunity,” he said.
Next Friday, the world can see Edley efforts with the release of Babylon Breeze on all major streaming platforms, visuals included.