By Marc Parc
Prior to being recognized for possessing one of the most unique voices in Dancehall music, Sheldon Aitana Lawrence, more popularly known as Aidonia, made himself synonymous with genre from a very young age.
Born in 1981, Lawrence grew up within a stable family environment whilst living with his mother, a teacher and father who was formerly a soldier. The Red Hills Road native was invested in music from an early age and while attending Meadowbrook High School, Lawrence gained an appreciation for the Dancehall genre. After watching a tape of the memorable clash between prominent Dancehall entertainers, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer at STING '93, Lawrence would re-enact the clash for his family and friends to enjoy. It was at this point when Lawrence would seriously pursue his dream of becoming a deejay.
Lawrence began to write his own lyrics and soon formed his own group entitled JAG1 (Jah A Guide). The group was referred to by onlookers as J.O.P (Jag One Productions) while the group performed at several fetes and school events. However, Lawrence was unfortunately expelled from Meadowbrook in 6th form after allegedly keeping bad company. Nevertheless, this did not deter Lawrence's dream of becoming a deejay.
After being expelled, Lawrence migrated to the United States with his father and worked for a short time at FedEx. During his stay in the U.S, Aidonia briefly made waves on the Dancehall scene in New York but would return to Jamaica at the encouragement of friends in order to build his career.
Lawrence developed the stage name of Aidonia, taken from his middle name of Aitana and the nickname "Donia" he would receive when playing football. Aidonia's efforts to become a Dancehall artiste would soon be recognized as he met follow entertainer, "Goofy," who's now known as Mr. G in 2003. Goofy took him under his wing and Aidonia recorded his first single under Goofy's Young Blood label entitled, "Many a Dem" in October of that year. The single earned positive reviews and by 2004, Aidonia was a regular performer at the weekly event, Battle Thursdays where fans got a first-hand look at his potential as a Dancehall entertainer.
In late 2004, Aidonia would garner the attention of established Dancehall producer, Cordel "Skatta" Burrell who invited him to a recording session. Aidonia's breakthrough hit would come two months following their meeting when he unveiled the single, "Lolly" on Skatta's Irish Dance Riddim. The song was included on VP Records' Strictly The Best album and Aidonia's status within Dancehall elevated.
Over the next two years, Aidonia would gradually elevate his ranking within the Dancehall fraternity as he released several hit singles such as "Chicken Heads" on the Galore Riddim, “Ukku Bit” on the Dem Time Deh Riddim as well as “Kingfish Ah Come.” Each of the aforementioned singles did well on local and overseas Dancehall charts and made Aidonia one of the hottest prospects in Dancehall with the combination of hardcore lyrics mixed with a strong vocal presence that few artistes in the genre possessed. However in May of 2006, Aidonia and Skatta severed ties after "Lord Evil" refused to renew his management contract with the producer. Nevertheless, Aidonia continues his ascendancy within the Dancehall genre; joining forces with idol and Alliance leader, Bounty Killer for the single, "Sen Fi Dem." Aidonia would start collaborating with Alliance artistes; most notably, Vybz Kartel who joined forces with Didi to record "Deadly Alliance." However, following the infamous on-stage brawl involving members of Aidonia's entourage and fellow Alliance mainstay, Mavado's entourage, Aidonia's friendship with Bounty Killer's group seemingly diminished; forcing him to focus more on his solo career.
In 2007, Aidonia released the controversial single, "Adi A Mi Daddy," on the After Dark that seemingly praised Vybz Kartel who left the Alliance months previously. He continued gaining buzz amongst his growing fan base and Dancehall observers with other hit songs such as “Bush Kosh,” “Gal Don’t Bawl,” “Hole di Trigga” and “Mi Clap It,” that all received rave reviews.
However, 2008 was the year that proved to be Aidonia's peak period as he capitalized on the growing "Daggering" craze with highly acclaimed singles such as "Check Mi Fi Di Daggering,” “In Her Belly” and “Hundred Stab.” Additionally, Aidonia collaborated with Vybz Kartel once more for the "bad man" single, "Laugh & Shot Dem,” that also was a hit with fans.
In 2009, Aidonia's friendship with Kartel seemingly withered when the artiste released the single, "Big Matic Nah Laugh" that apparently took lyrical jabs at "Di Teacha." But Aidonia would steer away from controversy and continue his musical prowess; landing another hit "Daggering" tune with the song, "Grab Har Nuh." The song was another chat success locally and internationally and began a solid year for him that also produced singles such as, “Bruk Out,” “Evil Head,” “Big Matic Nah Laugh,” and “Mac 90.”
Last year started out with fans taking notice of a different side of Aidonia as he along with singer, Aisha Davis collaborated for the scintillating love song, "My Heart Is Hers." The song was another smash hit; displaying Aidonia's versatility. To the contrary, it was Aidonia's single on the Equiknoxx Music produced Jim Screechie Riddim entitled "Jackhammer," that made one of the biggest splashes in Dancehall that summer. The song earned constant airplay and Aidonia's name continued to resonate with fans both underground and mainstream. Other songs such as "Buss It Inna Face" and “Fall in Love” were considered minor hits. But Aidonia scored again with his single, “Bad People,” on ZJ Chrome’s Dancehall EFX Riddim in December 2010.
"Bad People," was seemingly directed in the direction of Vybz Kartel and in January of this year, Aidonia issued a lyrical challenge to Kartel to once and for all settle their differences. However, Kartel has yet to respond to Aidonia's challenge.
Meanwhile, Aidonia has put more emphasis in 2011 towards promoting his J.O.P label mates as artistes such as Deablo, Navino and Suhverto have all become synonymous in their own rights with Dancehall music. Aidonia’s released hits such as “Try Mi Nuh,” “Summer Sun,” and “Caribbean Girl” that all have earned some amount of credence with fans. During this past summer, Aidonia joined forces with Vybz Kartel's former business partner, Corey Todd who is now the artiste's manager. In an effort to boost Aidonia’s commercial appeal, Todd made him one of the focal points of his “Yaad Stout” campaign while also encouraging Aidonia to endorse the “Yaad Swag” rum brand.
Aidonia has proven his worth as a reputable name within Dancehall circles. Now, as he aims to boost his mainstream capabilities, Aidonia’s potential looks like it continues to soar as he aims to take his brand to new heights.