Shinehead still striving - Lost sleep over Billboard dancehall diss
For those who, perhaps, had been wondering what happened to dancehall legend Shinehead, it is simple. He has spent time taking stock and now has “more wisdom to match [his] big mouth”. Actually, Shinehead is still “a legal alien”, he’s still striving, and he is full of conversation. Pick a topic – any topic – and he’s there for it.
He easily weighed in on “the disrespect” Billboard magazine showed to dancehall by leaving Beenie Man and Bounty Killer off the cover of their Verzuz tribute piece. Even though he noted that the omission “wasn’t as severe as having a white angel stamping his foot on the head of the black devil on an insignia worn by Jamaica’s governor general”, he still took it to heart. “I literally lost sleep over the Bounty and Beenie diss. The next day, mi eye dem a burn mi. Beenie and Bounty have given the number-one performance for the Verzuz series up until now. They set the blueprint for Verzuz, which used our clash format anyway,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.
Shinehead makes no secret of the fact that he has been surveying the musical landscape in Jamaica, and he likes some of the artistes who have emerged. “Oh yes, I see Jah9, Koffee, Kartel, Alkaline, Bugle, Chris Martin, Shenseea, Chronixx, and others. And I also see the new Shinehead, with the oversized glasses like mine,” he added with a laugh.
The England-born, Bronx-raised Jamaican reggae singer, toaster, and rapper, whose crossover hits in the ’80s inspired a generation, was, on July 1, honoured by International Reggae Day (IRD) for his game-changer role in the music industry. Under the theme ‘From Jamrock2HipHop’, IRD celebrated Shinehead, who is one of the first Jamaican reggae dancehall artistes signed to a US label.
Shinehead recently grabbed headlines, declaring that he “is back on the recording scene”, but Shinehead says that he really never stopped recording. “I have released a few songs that have gone unsung. Pun intended,” he declared. On July 24, he dropped a new single, Never Had a Dream Come True, on Peckings label out of the UK. “I’m doing Stevie [Wonder] on the verse and Michael Jackson on the hook,” he said of the cover-version single. “There will be a double follow-up speaking to the signs of the time. Rasta people gotta cut their hair in Jamaica? We seh we a bad man and gangalee. Where have all di bad man gone?”
He added: “These songs will have a Treasure Isle flavour. We have to recapture the cadence. We will be looking at racism and fascism. Bashment is not a priority right now. You cyaan shoot me inna my back and me a buss champagne bottle,” he remarked, pointing fingers at no one in particular.
Shinehead admitted that his live performances, even prior to the pandemic, were “very few and far between”, and it’s not because he can’t be found. “I’m very highly visible on Sundays and Wednesdays on Irish and Chin SoundChat [radio],” he shared. He also has his Kingston 12 Hi Fi Sound System with DJ Papalotl and recently renewed his residency on Jamrock Radio, a Damian Jr Gong Marley platform.
He explained that promoters approach him for events, but somehow, negotiations never progress beyond a certain stage. “So a promoter will seh, ‘Shines, mi a put on a show. How much yuh a charge?’ And so I will ask basic negotiation questions – with plenty manners pon top cause mi mother tell mi, ‘Carl, you need to tone it down’. Then you hear seh mi cockaty and dem have mi as a crazy drug addict. But there’s the Ivy League and there’s the Irie League,” he reasoned.
Dubplate work, although he doesn’t advertise, still comes in. “I tried it once [advertising], and it felt icky. But look at it this way, Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Rolls Royce, they don’t have TV commercials.”
He summed up his perceived years-long absence in less than a minute. It started with a move to Ft Lauderdale on All Fool’s Day in the year 2000, after which he went quiet for a couple of years, got married for longer than when he was silent, started singing again in 2012, and then something significant happened in 2014. “A ship named Jamrock came along, and I have been performing on the cruise every year since.”