CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland is known for big-selling acts like rappers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and rock band Nine Inch Nails.
The city’s reggae scene is still growing, and one of the artists leading that growth is Sun Shade.
The singer launched his Don’t You Be EP in Cleveland in August. It has seven songs including the title song, a nod to the stripped-down roots-reggae beats he heard as a youth in his hometown of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“I grew up with roots, it’s something that will never leave me. As I grew, my preference became more like Beres Hammond, Dennis Brown, Sanchez, Alton Ellis, more of a lovers rock,” Sun Shade explained.
He migrated to the United States in the late 1990s, initially settling in Florida and New York. A Cleveland resident for 15 years, he has opened shows for Hammond and Freddie McGregor when they performed there.
Don’t You Be also includes Take Your Time, an uptempo roots number and two versions of Goin’ On (acoustic and ska). Sun Shade, whose real name is Melville Malcolm, said he likes to show his versatility.
“Some of my main influences were people like Beres, Sanchez, Dennis Brown, Phil Collins, Maxi Priest, Sizzla, Buju Banton, Luciano and many more. They’ve all made an impact on my sound on either a melodic or a lyrical level.”
Don’t You Be is Sun Shade’s most ambitious venture to date. It is produced by Cleveland-based DubbStarr Records and distributed by Tuff Gong International.
As he steps up promotion for the mini set in the US and his adopted hometown, Sun Shade also has his sights set on getting a hit song where it all started — Jamaica. “That would be a great accomplishment,” he said.