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Shaggy: King of reinvention with 30 years under his belt

STANDING THE TEST OF TIME: Shaggy’s music has remained relevant since the heyday of his success, and has just released his second single with Sting

WHEN YOU have had a successful career for over 25 years, selling more than 20 million records and ar Jamaica’s only living diamond selling artists, how do you stay motivated.

There was only one man who could tell me – Shaggy. We caught up with each other on my recent trip to Jamaica. It was just ahead of the Buju Banton show and the buzz in Jamaica was immense.

I was waiting for my media accreditation when I saw the White SUV pull up in the busy yard.

Shaggy casually jumps out with one of the street promo kings, ‘Ghetto Bomb’ and Tracks and Records restaurant owner Gary Matalan. An odd mix of two extreme opposites with Shaggy in the middle.

Could this be the secret to Shaggy’s success? Staying connected to what’s happening in the streets and uptown at the same time!

Over the years of knowing this two time Grammy winner he has always had time for me. Shaggy is a people person and would have a honest conversation with anyone ready to listen.

The last 12 months have been exceptionally special for him after creating a bond with the pop legend Sting.

This bond started after a session that created their first single Don’t Make Me Wait. That one session was the spark that ended up as an entire album, 44/876, The phone area codes of the UK and Jamaica.

Shaggy is no stranger to the pop mainstream world and he wears that suit of clothes very well. In the past he has emphasised someone has to go out there and represent the music in that manner. But as he tells me in this meet up: “I still know wha gwan in the streets!”

With tickets in hand for the Buju show, a very happy Shaggy asks me: “You gonna come support the 44/876 tour show in the UK?” I was completely unaware of these planned May shows so answered: “I would love to be your support DJ,” with a cheeky smile…

I’ve seen Shaggy on the road extensively promoting this album with Sting as If it was the pairs debut project as newcomers. He was excited to tell me about the five day UK run which I said would of course double up as a bit of a homecoming for Sting. He then let the cat out the bag that show may be coming to Jamaica at some point, too, which would be a major treat for the island.

This was my first chance to be able to congratulate Shaggy on his Grammy win for Best Reggae Album 2019.

However, instead of just saying thanks and taking the compliment he took the time to tell me that they are back up in my charts with the new single, Just One Lifetime.

At the age of 50 and after so many achievements it doesn’t look like Shaggy has any intention of slowing down. Counting him out at any point is a crazy thing to do as he shown us over the years that he can turn it on at any moment.

Shaggy smiles and laughs. “It’s a blessing and I have to give thanks to have been doing this for almost 30 years and still be relevant in this time and to be connected in this new digital age, too,” he says. “We are actually one of the top three streamers in dancehall – check Spotify and these things you can see.

“The thing is you can’t be making music that doesn’t have a passport or a visa. Reggae is global and if the Jamaicans don’t want to take it global somebody else will. We have seen this happen over and over again, but I’ll do my part as I always have.”

I know that Shaggy feels comfortable making world music, but I was intrigued to know how Sting felt about being on a song with an in the streets dancehall artist like Aidonia.

Even though Sting had recorded many reggae influenced songs with The Police, but Message In A Bottle is hardly Yeah Yeah Yeah.

“He was happy,” Mr Boombastic tells me. “Sting remembered him from his performance at my Shaggy and Friends charity concert, so when we came up with the track he was up for it.

“What you have to remember is that songs like Message In A Bottle were recorded in Golden Eye in Jamaica, so this place is a magical place for him.”

It isn’t just a magical place for him, it’s also a magical place for me. My last night in Kingston saw me at a street party – Boom Sunday. I was partying with the likes of Munga Honourebel and legendary New York DJ Bobby Konders.

Then, right on cue walks the Grammy winning Shaggy and Ghetto Bomb, Shaggy ends up performing his new single Money Up to a packed road in Grants Pen. He is in the streets fi real!

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