‘Underrated’ and Shane O have been synonymous since the dancehall singjay got his big break almost 20 years ago with Lightning Flash. While he’s had a love-hate relationship with the label, he seemed to acknowledge it during his set at Reggae Sumfest last Friday.
“People mi a tell unno the honest truth, mi fi reach farther than weh mi deh inna life,” he told the roaring audience at Catherine Hall, St. James. “Mi a talented youth and all a unno know that…”
Later on, during a performance of his 2022 hit Dark Room, he added, “People tell dem leggo Shane O. Real talent deh yah. People, it up to unno too. Send the thing dem a road.”
“Talented people are not appreciated by them own,” one user wrote.
Others added, “Real talk young. Yu a one of the best and them a go round it,” “Shane o fight is real” and “Him underrated yf.”
Another chimed, “Shane O trust God and trust the process you will be greater trust me keep your head up.”
But speaking to DancehallMag last year, the Mill Fi Share artist had said that he’s more focused on doing his work than absorbing the opinions of others.
“It’s just life, I don’t feel any way about it, and if people ago seh mi underrated, that mean dem know mi,” he said. “If mi did underrated, nobody wouldn’t know me, suh mi nuh wah nobody a talk bout underrated, cause if mi did underrated, dem wouldn’t know me.”
In the ebbs and flows of his career, Shane O has managed to score street anthems and radio hits, the last of which was Dark Room. Produced by HR Records and SOR Records, the song captures the slows and stills of life which can imbue hopelessness. International Grammy-winning producer DJ Khaled co-signed the track during a visit to Jamaica, where he connected with Shane O. Captured on video, the moment exposed the singjay to a wider audience, including rappers Offset and Busta Rhymes who sang his praises.
The Sumfest platform was another demonstration of people connecting to his music, evidenced by the deafening horns for songs like Pardon Draw and Last Days. It was a high-energy set that lasted nearly 15 minutes, with Shane O growing emotional after claiming he initially got five minutes to perform.
“When dem tell mi seh a five minutes, mi nearly cry living eye water cause mi a seh to myself, how mi a work so hard, been a work so hard, and a five minutes?” he said.
Shane O’s forthcoming debut album, Distress of Mine, is set to become a significant milestone in his artistic journey. He told the Jamaica Gleaner that fans can expect a collection of songs with substance and powerful messages.
“It nuh normal fi do that enuh, cause you done know nuff artiste from dem time deh after them break through you nuh really see them. We still a put in the work same way, great meditations same way, same meds, good topics, good inspiration, good music, good melody,” he said.
He added: “You have to do song with substance, that a number one. The one-week song dem nice sometime, excitement, but you have to have song weh last long.”
The artist revealed that one of the central themes of Distress of Mine is his reconnection with his long-lost mother. Having been separated since he was thirteen years old, they recently reunited, he said.
“While I was on my way to Reggae Sumfest, and mom just a pop up inah mi head and a say ‘a better you mash up di place enuh boy,’ and mi just a talk to myself and a say ‘alright mommy, mi a go dweet fi you’,” he added.