Number one hits, platinum and gold albums, arena tours…few Jamaican artists have achieved the international success known by Shaggy. And as a result, few Jamaican artists have experienced such international recognition. Go around the globe and people know Mr. Boombastic. They know his darling angel, and they definitely know it wasn’t him. Despite common misconceptions of the music business, this kind of pop success takes hard work, loads of talent, and at least a little luck. Repeat hits take an exponential increase in the hard work and talent departments. Rootfire caught up with Shaggy late last month in Denver at the Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. After over twenty years of success, Shaggy hits the stage with the authority of a veteran frontman, the crowd becoming an extension of his charisma. Packed full of enthusiastic fans ready to burn the midnight oil on a Wednesday night, no one left disappointed.
Rootfire: “It Wasn’t Me” is one of the highest grossing reggae songs of all time, having reached the #1 spot in both the US and UK. This is the kind of success that many artists can only dream of. Did this degree of success change your approach to producing songs? What helps you to keep up with the shifts in popular music?
Shaggy: I never tried to make songs to suit a particular genre, you know what I mean? We did well with “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel” and all those songs, but for the most part I always just do Shaggy songs. I try to make timeless songs and put them out. The song has to connect with me first before it connects with the audience.
RF: You have collaborated with some serious heavyweights, from Chaka Khan to Janet Jackson. What are some of your favorite collaboration projects you have been a part of? Any good stories from the studio working with certain artists?
Shaggy: To be honest with you, when I collaborated with Janet Jackson we didn’t do it together. To this day I’ve probably met Janet only once, and briefly. I did a song with Jam and Lewis, who approached me to do the song for the soundtrack, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. My favorite collaboration, still is to this day, is collaborating with Rayvon. I think there’s magic when him and my voice comes together, we have made quite a few hits together, and there’s always a good chemistry there.
RF: What’s on Shaggy’s day-to-day playlist? Any artists/producers you can’t get enough of?
Shaggy: My playlist really consists of more of the more classical older stuff. I’m a big Bill Withers fan. So I listen to like Bill Withers, Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, you know what I mean? Stevie Wonder. Those are the type of artists that I’m into. I’m into big songwriters.
RF: As one of the most successful reggae artists of all time, and one of the few who has seen success in both the reggae and pop markets, do you have any advice for up and coming producers in search of a hit?
Shaggy: As far as advice for upcoming producers…things have changed since my time. A lot of it is you just gotta find something that’s unique, and something that works in this climate of music. And something that is going to be really cool right now, but at the same time be timeless enough to last over ten years.
RF: Any new music in the works you can tell us about?
Shaggy: We have an album coming out November 1. We’re just looking forward to putting that out and continue putting some great music out to the fans and coming out there and touring.