L.I.M.E. Interview: Q&A With Reggae Artist Shaggy
Reggae artist Shaggy is back with a vengeance! Fans have been anxiously awaiting a new album from the “Angel” singer and finally their prayers have been answered.
After 4-years, the Grammy Award-winning singer is just days away from releasing a brand new studio album titled, Summer In Kingston. Shaggy is a veteran in the music industry, having been the only Dancehall Reggae artist to achieve a Diamond Certification for his 2001 album Hot Shot. Even with all of his achievements in the music industry, Shaggy still remains humble, focused and personable.
L.I.M.E. recently caught-up with Shaggy during his promo stint in New York City. In this interview, Shaggy reveals the inspiration behind his new album, what he’s been up to and how he retains his longevity in the ever-changing music industry.
LIME: You recently released the song “Sugarcane” from your upcoming album, Summer In Kingston. The song is currently No. 5 on the iTunes Reggae. How does it feel to not only be back releasing new music, but to be on the charts right out of the gate?
SHAGGY: “It feels really good. It took a minute to work it out, because we knew that whatever we were going to come with had to have a certain amount of appeal, a certain level of tongue-in-cheek, and make people want to listen to it. That was definitely the intent. So it feels great to come out with a product that sounds like Shaggy and feels like Shaggy. Overall, it’s good to have a plan and see that plan work.”
SHAGGY: “I just wanted to make a feel good record. There are a lot of different sounds coming out of Jamaica and a lot of the Dancehall stuff is really dark. I’m a fan of all of it, even the dark stuff, but I think there just needs to be a balance. ‘Sugarcane’ has got that summer vibe and it’s a little bit ambiguous, so it’s fun. We’re putting out 8 tracks to start things off, and releasing it as a digital version. It’s going to be two big projects for us. I’m pretty sure I’m going to add another six tracks to it, and actually release a hard copy version of the album at that point. The main thing is to get people back into my music. The digital version of the album is going to be sold fairly cheap ($2.99 on iTunes).”
LIME: How long did you work on Summer In Kingston before everything got mastered and put together?
SHAGGY: “The thing about Summer In Kingston is that, it’s not a album that we really made. When it came time to put the album together, it was really about us picking from over 200 songs I had recorded and seeing which ones would fit. The songs on the album are the ones that fit with what we’re trying to accomplish right now, you know songs that give you a feel good vibe.”
LIME: This will be your first studio album since 2007. Your fans want to know, what has Shaggy been up to since then?
SHAGGY: “I’ve been touring. I enjoy touring and I spend most of my time doing that. I like getting in front of an audience and having that personal & intimate connection with fans. It’s really the touring aspect that we [my team and I] focus on a lot. I realize that there are times when I have to put out new stuff for my fans, and this is just one of those times. I felt like now was the right time to do it, so I went ahead and did it.”
LIME: Going back to Summer in Kingston, the track “Fired Up (F*ck The Recession)” with Pitbull. The song is definitely a favorite of mine, because it goes against the grain. Did you have any reservations when you first started recording it?
SHAGGY: “Nah I didn’t. The track was sent to me when I was in Australia and the minute I heard it, I was feeling the vibe and thought it was a smash. I wanted to do something everyone could relate to. I thought about it. I thought about all this stuff going on with Obama & the recession and said hey ‘F**K The Recession’ and took it from there. I approached Pitbull with it, and he thought it was hot and wanted to get on it. The fans really responded to it, so we went with the Pitbull version.”
LIME: “Let’s take it back for a second, the track “It Wasn’t Me” off of your Hot Shot album. The song was featured on TV shows, people have used it to defend themselves in awkward situations. It really became a staple in music history. I know you fought to get that track on the album, looking back, did you ever think it would become as popular as it was and still is today?
SHAGGY: “I don’t think anyone could predict the magnitude of that record and what became of it. I knew there was just something special about it. I felt the same way about “Boombastic” and “Angel.” I felt they were all special records. The magnitude of that record and how it connected to the fans was just fate. That’s the big man’s doing right there.”
LIME: You have been recording and performing for more than 20 years; do you ever find it hard to keep up with the changing times, as far as the music industry goes?
SHAGGY: “Nah because I go against the grain. I try not to keep up with it. I kinda just make music with the hope that it connects. Every artist wants to sell records and be on the charts, but the records you make to keep up with the current format, still has to have traces of you in it. You have to be true to yourself. You have to remain credible. I would say the only difficulty I’ve experienced is trying to bridge the gaps between keeping up and remaining credible at the same time.”
LIME: Putting music aside for a minute, many people don’t know that you have your own non-profit organization called the ‘Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation’ (SMADF). Could you tell my readers a little bit about it?
SHAGGY: “The foundation came about as a result of the Shaggy & Friends benefit concert. I’ve been supporting the Bustamante Hospital for Children for about 9-years prior, just out of pocket & doing whatever I could for it. The first time I went there, I was visiting a producer friend of mine and saw the conditions of the place and I promised myself that if I ever became successful, I would get a petition to help out. I got the petition, went ahead and did my best, but even then I felt like the help I was giving wasn’t enough. I saw a young girl there with a bullet in her head and it changed my whole plan. So, I said I was going to do a concert to help raise money to get this hospital as much equipment as possible. I spoke to a few people and they told me I needed to set-up a foundation. The whole process was new to me. So I said let’s go, how do we go about? I gathered as many people as I could to make it happen and we did just that. The foundation was premeditated because we jumped into it from the heart and it just developed into something big.”
LIME: What’s next for you, what are you currently working on?
SHAGGY: It’s all about promoting this record right now. Hopefully next year I can go on tour and perform in front a local audience. That’s kind of the goal right now.”
Summer In Kingston has a genuine island sound that will make you feel as though you have been whisked away to Jamaica. The album is the perfect blend of relaxation & dance tracks; thereby making it the perfect addition to any playlist.
Shaggy’s new album, Summer In Kingston will be available July 19, on iTunes!
Special thanks to: Shaggy & Michela DellaMonica of The Door l an idea house (TheDoorOnline.com).
Photo Credit: Johnathan Mannion