We were saddened by word that Crazy Town frontman Shifty Shellshock fell into a coma last week. According to TMZ, the 37-year-old Los Angeles native (real name Seth Binzer) is now conscious, though he remains in an intensive care unit at a local hospital. We love the guy, and figured this was as good a time as any to tell you everything about him.
Shellshock first came to national attention with Crazy Town's hit 2001 single “Butterfly.” At rap-metal's absolute peak, the seductive ballad was hard enough for rock stations but still catchy enough for pop radio, topping Billboard's Hot 100 chart and reaching #1 in six other countries. The third single from the group's debut The Gift of Game, it gave their then-almost 18-month-old album a second life and catapulted the group to worldwide stardom.
Shellshock first linked up with his partner in rhyme Bret “Epic” Mazur in the mid-'90s. By 1999 they had expanded into a full band and dubbed themselves Crazy Town. One of the most successful groups of their era, they toured with several festivals and made tracks with rap legend KRS-ONE and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo.
After “Butterfly” and two albums, the group went on hiatus. Shellshock quickly had his second international smash with “Starry-Eyed Surprise,” a collaboration with English trance DJ Paul Oakenfold. The single had several resurgences throughout the decade, thanks in part to its inclusion in commercials for Diet Coke and the Apple iLife.
“Starry-Eyed Surprise” gave Shellshock enough momentum to release a proper solo album. Reemerging as just “Shifty” on 2004's Happy Love Sick, he scored a minor hit with “Slide Along Side.” Crazy Town eventually reformed in 2007 and returned to the stage in 2009 with new material occasionally popping up unannounced on their MySpace page. In 2010 Shellshock formed another solo project, Shifty and the Big Shots.
Shellshock has also made a handful of film appearances. Prior to music, he appeared in the 1994 Martin Short film Clifford. Most notably, he had a bit part in 2005's Hustle & Flow. Our favorite role of his was a cameo as the new neighbor at the end of P. Diddy's “Bad Boy 4 Life” video, prompting the mogul to utter “Damn, there goes the neighborhood.”
The past few years have seen Shellshock in a different light. The face of reality TV drug recovery, he was a cast member in both the first two seasons of VH1's Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. His struggles with addiction gained further attention in 2009 following the death of fellow Crazy Town member DJ AM. The popular DJ became the second member of the band to die young, preceded in 2004 by guitarist Rust Epique.
Despite his demons, Shellshock has always been a fun personality to follow. His unmistakably upbeat attitude and heavily tattooed appearance made him the embodiment of a musical era when cartoonishly-excessive partying was in. His smooth flow married a Cali grit with an unmistakable charisma, making his guest raps ideal for feel good pop music. While recent turmoil has added an unfortunate chapter to his career, Shellshock has always possessed an intangible quality that makes you just want the guy to get his life back together. We wish him a speedy recovery!