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By Kevin Jackson–
 Mr. Easy and Shaggy

NEW York City is home to arguably the largest Jamaican immigrant population in the United States. No surprise then, that the Big Apple has produced a number of dancehall heavyweights who made it out of that region before breaking in Jamaica. Here are some of them:

Mr Easy (real name Ian Dyer) was born and raised in east Kingston but migrated to the Flatbush area of Brooklyn in the early 1980s. He signed with Quincy Jones’ Quest label (distributed by Warner Bros) which released his debut album Call Me Mr Easy. He later teamed with Dave Kelly’s Madhouse company and scored hits on the Joyride ‘riddim’ (Funny Man) and Tony Kelly’s Buy Out beat (She Drives Me Crazy).

Deejay Shelly Thunder was born in Kingston but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Known for hits such as Shock Mi a Shock, Working Girl, Kuff and Walk Outta Mi House (Make Up to Break Up), she was once signed to Island Records subsidiary Mango Records. Now 49 years-old, Shelly Thunder (real name Michelle Harrison) is a born again Christian.


Orville Burrell, more famously known as Shaggy, was born in Kingston but moved to Flatbush in the late 1980s. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, and served during the first Gulf War.

After leaving the military, he pursued a music career. He had minor hits in the New York City area including Big Up (with Red Fox) and Pose Off. Big Up reached number two on the New York Reggae Chart in 1992. The following year Shaggy scored a monster hit with a cover of the Ffolkes Brothers’ Oh Carolina. He got even bigger with hits such as Boombastic, Angel, It Wasn’t Me and That Girl.

England-born Shinehead moved to the Bronx, New York in the 1980s. He is one of the first acts to blend hip hop with reggae.

Shinehead was born Edmund Carl Aiken in 1962. His music career began on the New York City sound system circuit, performing mainly with Tony Screw’s Downbeat the Ruler, based in The Bronx. His recording debut was in 1986 on the African Love label with the song Who The Cap Fits (Let Them Wear It) from the album Rough & Rugged.


Shinehead signed to Elektra Records in 1988, and remained with that label until 1995.

His most popular song in Jamaica is Strive which went number one in 1991.

Singer Kranium is the latest New York-based artist to score a hit in Jamaica. Born Kemar Donaldson in Montego Bay, he is the nephew of singer Screwdriver, best known for the 1988 hit song Sharon a Pregnant Yuh Pregnant. Kranium migrated to New York 10 years ago.



His song, Nobody Has to Know, was a sleeper hit in New York before crossing over to Jamaican charts. The song has entered Billboard’s Next Big Sound, Emerging Artists and Trending 140 charts.

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