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Sidewalk University

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By the time of Sidewalk University’s release, Shinehead had established himself as a key player on New York’s flourishing dancehall scene. He'd made a name for himself as one of the sharpest deejays working for Tony Screw’s legendary Downbeat International soundsystem and displayed a truly startling stylistic versatility on record, coming across as a ruthless microphone controller at one moment and a silken-voiced crooner the next. Shinehead’s eclecticism attracted the attention of Elektra Records, which recognized his ability to appeal to listener sensibilities ranging from dancehall and reggae to hip-hop and R&B. Sidewalk University was Shinehead’s third full-length for Elektra and saw him finally achieving the crossover hit the label had long hoped for. This came in the form of “Jamaican in New York,” a lighthearted remake of Sting’s 1988 hit “Englishman in New York”; it was tender enough to appeal to mainstream listeners but kept a real emotional heft that made it an anthem for expatriate Jamaicans not just in New York, but the world over.


Born: 10 April 1962 in Kent, England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The fact that Shinehead split his time growing up between Jamaica and America was reflected in his recordings; the Kent, England-born vocalist (born Edmund Carl Aiken) released several albums between the late '80s and early '90s that blended dancehall and ragga with hip-hop. Whether Shinehead was toasting or crooning or flat-out rapping, he always balanced his material between the positive and socially conscious with more lighthearted sentiments. He got involved with music by performing at New York...
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Sidewalk University, Shinehead
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