From tour vlogs to lifestyle content, Dancehall artist Aidonia was early in the YouTube game as a content creator. With his last upload in 2019, the Big Baller has returned to the space with a new channel and series called Ask Aidonia, which premiered on Monday.
The debut episode is centered around his musical journey, particularly the early stages before he got his breakout hit Nuh Candy Shop (Jolly/Lolly) in 2005.
From hustling in the streets to being mentored by some of the best in the biz, here are five interesting facts about Aidonia’s claim to fame.
Aidonia credits artist and producer Mr. G (Goofy) as the first person in the music industry to give him a chance. A friend told Aidonia about Mr. G’s Young Blood recording studio at Princeville Plaza in St. Andrew, and they went to meet the hotshot to showcase his skills.
“Mi go so boom and deejay two things fi Goofy and his response was, ‘Him alright’… At the time when him seh dat, mi nah tell nuh lie, mi feel a way cause dem time deh mi a tell myself mi a di baddest artist…”
The feedback was enough to keep Aidonia away from the studio for several months, explaining, “Dem time deh we a young artist and we never know how fi deal with criticism…”
He would eventually bump into Mr. G’s brother who assured him that the producer just wanted to challenge him, and that he should pay him a visit. After another instance of spitting lyrics before Mr. G and his friend, he was finally in the studio recording How Do You Want It? on the Range Rover rhythm.
“A Goofy start show me how to formulate chorus cause me was just a youth weh a just raw lyrics, cause you know my flow has always been that rap type of mix with deejay type of thing, so, a just lyrics me a deal with dem time deh…
“When me done the tune, Goofy a seh, ‘Youth, yuh bad enuh… Everyday yuh fi deh yasso’, and a so mi get started inna the music business. Goofy a di first one who record me… That was my first stepping stone of becoming Aidonia.”
Aidonia in the Epican Lab developing his new trademark strain.
Long before he became an Epican brand ambassador in 2019, Aidonia, whose given name is Sheldon Lawrence, earned a living by selling marijuana. It was also his means of income whenever his musical pursuit was met with a slow period.
“Me went back to juggling weed because yuh done know inna dem time deh, we want it fi work but if it nah work, yuh haffi mek ends meet and playing basketball and juggling herbs fi Eric was my ways of making ends meet.”
It was a rough period for the aspiring deejay who shared being hungry while selling on the block.
“The youth mi a juggle the weed fah, Eric, forward deh but him see seh mi raw and him a seh, ‘Like yuh raw dawg?’, and mi a seh, ‘Dawg, mi raw’. Him a seh, ‘Yow, mek we mek a walk go over the plaza’. There was a restaurant right across from Goofy studio… Walk go a di restaurant and by time we go so, boom, and walk go inna the restaurant, a Goofy bredda mi buck up inna the restaurant…”
Eric is beyond his kush boss in this story, but a critical figure encouraging him to chase his dreams. He followed Aidonia to see Mr. G after months of avoiding the studio because of the producer’s initial underwhelming reaction. When Mr. G invited Aidonia to record at his studio, Eric told him to go and even offered to sell Aidonia’s weed so he could focus on recording.
Producer Skatta Burrell’s studio was situated above Mr. G’s, and he heard Aidonia deejaying on the plaza among other aspiring artists. Mr. G had even played some of his songs for Burrell, and while the latter was impressed, his roster was too full to take on a new artist.
Still, he couldn’t escape the word on the curb that Aidonia was the artist to watch. In a conversation with video director Simeon Hedge, he was saddened to hear that Aidonia had stopped going to the studio and was selling marijuana, so, he got his number. Before long, Burrell was at Aidonia’s home and said he’d try to connect him to other people since his roster was full.
“A so come him start mek some links and start send some riddims,” including Harvel ‘Gadafi’ Hart’s Out and Bad riddim which inspired him to writeInna Di Ghetto. Impressed, Burrell took him to Hart’s studio where he performed before an audience including late deejay Merciless.
“Brave up and di riddim go suh and drop, and mi deejay again ‘inna the ghetto’. Merciless a look pon me a seh, ‘Dah youth yah bad’… Gadafi seh, ‘No man, dah tune yah bad. Skatta go voice it man’.”
The song was recorded and released in 2008.
It was Burrell’s idea to shoot a music video for Inna Di Ghetto, executed by Hedge.
With weed selling still his only income stream, Aidonia didn’t have money to get decked out for the video.
“Dem time deh we deven have gears and certain things and a Skatta go so and give me $20,000 dem time deh,” Aidonia shared. “One a my dog dem weh dung a town weh deal with clothes and dem ting deh, a him me go so and give the food and him put together two likkle ting and two likke clarks…”
As for accessories, he borrowed them from his brother Lalo, who stands as his manager today.
Aidonia (right) with his brother/manager Lalo Lawrence.
“All the chains dem mi wear inna the video, a mi bredda chain, a Lalo chain dat, yuh zimmi, cause dem time mi nav nuh jewellery. Mi a seh, ‘Lalo, mi have a music video enuh dawg. Yuh haffi go lend mi yuh chain’, and Lalo go so boom and lend me him chain and him bracelet…”
The video was shot across various inner cities in Kingston, including Maxfield, Grants Pen and Riverton City.
Rapper 50 Cent (left) and Aidonia
Still working with Burrell, Aidonia was presented with the Irish Dance riddim in 2005. In the G-Unit dominance of the mid-2000s, Aidonia was inspired to counteract 50 Cent’s latest release at the time, Candy Shop, which featured Olivia.
The track, Nuh Candy Shop (Jolly/Lolly), was rotated across local radio thanks to connections made by Burrell, but it was its placement on the hip-hop instrumental that gave Aidonia his first hit.
“When Jerry (from ZIP 103FM) start play dat pon radio dawg, the rest a history,” Aidonia recalled. “The song just went like wild fire. So, Skatta was the man who did understand the plan and him just run me through the right channels as a man weh believe inna me dawg… A so mi get mi break, so, mi haffi big up Skatta fi actually believe and just run mi through the channels and put him money pon Aidonia and send me to the world.”
Watch the full episode of Ask Aidonia?? below.
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