Shaggy – A 2008 Interview

SHAGGY – From Boombastic to Intoxicating!

Interview and Photos by Jan Salzman

January 8, 2008 – Los Angeles, CA – Shaggy is Jamaica’s only living Diamond-plus selling recording artist. He received the coveted Grammy Award for the 1996 hit albumBoombastic, and his CD Hot Shot went multiple-platinum when released in 2000. Hot Shot includes the massive hit singles “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel.”haggy is Jamaica’s only living Diamond-plus selling recording artist. He received the coveted Grammy Award for the 1996 hit albumBoombastic, and his CD Hot Shot went multiple-platinum when released in 2000. Hot Shot includes the massive hit singles “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel.”

Shaggy is very devoted to his music, always striving to out do his previous efforts, as you will hear when you give a listen to his new CD Intoxication on VP Records. You definitely should go and get this CD if you like to dance! had the opportunity to attend his CD release party in November 2007 at the Hard Rock Café inside Universal City Walk, Universal City, CA. He also delivered a one-hour performance on the Walk, located outside of the Café. We caught up with Shaggy by phone the next day. He is a very warm, friendly person and a fantastic entertainer. Here is our conversation:

Shaggy: Hello Jan

JS: Hello Shaggy. I am really looking forward to this interview.

Shaggy: Ah, lovely…

JS: I snapped some really nice pictures of you last night…

Shaggy: Beautiful. Well, that’s good. It was kind of a strange setting but, hey, you nah mean…as long as I made it through.

JS: It was very good. The crowd was really up for you.

Shaggy: Bless, bless.

JS: Here we go! How did your association with VP Records come about?

Shaggy: What prompted that was the situation with Geffen (Records). I had released a song by the name of “Wild Tonight.” Obviously, you know the situation with MCA Records — [it] folded. What happened is they disbanded the company. They dropped some artists, and some of the more important artists they moved to Geffen. Over at Geffen it was a new company with new people. Obviously, with a new company and new people, it’s going to go through a transitional stage. This could take probably three to four years. I got caught up in that transition.

JS: Oh, I see.

Shaggy: I released “Wild Tonight” and, for some reason, the president at that time, and the people at that time—the powers that be—did not feel that was the direction that I should go. In my opinion, where the music is—where dancehall is—and where Shaggy needs to be, we needed to have that direction going. I had to pretty much focus on getting the core market back. When you give a record company “Angel” and it becomes an immediate hit, they cannot see anything else other than that.

When we put out “Wild Tonight,” it went to #1 in the Caribbean and #1in Jamaica. For some reason, once we started to cross over they just did not back us on that. So, in October it was up for renegotiation. We had a new president now. This was the third president. He wanted to re-sign the deal again and come with a new song, which was “Those Were the Days,” [also] featured on this album. He was like, okay, let’s try and move forward. I, at that point, decided that I did not want to move forward. The direction I wanted to go in, I don’t think I would have been able to go with them. Can you imagine me walking in with “Church Heathen” and saying this is going to be my next big hit? (we laugh) I don’t think they would take that real well. So I decided to leave. In October, the minute I received the paper that I was released (from Geffen), I went into the studio. I came out with “Church Heathen” in December.

JS: And it was a smash hit!

Shaggy: Right, smash hit. It was thirteen weeks at Number One. It kinda prompted the direction of my album…where I wanted to take it. The only company [that] could’ve seen and executed the direction I wanted to go was VP. We basically did a partnership deal with them. We did a joint venture and we are full speed ahead right now.

JS: What is the first single from the new CD Intoxication?

Shaggy: The first single is “Church Heathen,” obviously. As far as our first commercial release, it would be “Bonafide Girl.”

JS: Do you have a favorite song from the CD?

Shaggy: The favorite song would be “Woman Scorned.” It’s just a favorite of mine.

Shaggy: Yes, I do. I write and co-write sometimes with Rik Rok, sometimes with a kid by the name of G.C.

JS: Who in the music business inspires you?

Shaggy: I am just inspired. There are many people that I admire but I don’t necessarily emulate. Like, for instance, Jimmy Cliff is a big inspiration, Toots and the Maytals, Super Cat, people like those, you know? You admire them and they do inspire you to a certain extent, but I don’t emulate anything they do. Sometimes my harshest critics are the fuel to my fire.

JS: What music do you like to listen to?

Shaggy: I call music your mood swings. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a vibe…for instance, if you’re having a romantic evening with your girl, candlelight dinner and what not, you’re not going to put on Led Zeppelin (we laugh). You’re going for some Marvin Gaye, you’re going for some Beres Hammond, you nah mean? That’s the vibe I’m talking about.

JS: What is in your CD player right now?

Shaggy: In my CD player right now happens to be things that I’m working on. I think the last thing I bought was probably the Alicia Keys album.

JS: Okay, good choice. If you weren’t a Dancehall star what might you be doing?

Shaggy: I went in the military first. I was in the military for four years. It’s hard to say what I would’ve done. What I do know is it would be something I am passionate about.

JS: Yes, I guess it (the military experience) gives you some good discipline for all this music business stuff.

Shaggy: Absolutely. It certainly prompts me to be on time (we laugh).

JS: I appreciate that! What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Shaggy: Trying to get this minority music to be majority music. We’re still facing that. “Dancehallism” is minority music with a majority sound. That’s what I like to call it. I can break it down for you…for instance, we’ve proven in the field of Dancehall that we sell records. Myself, Sean Paul, Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, over the years [we] have moved numbers…including the great Bob Marley. We have proved that we are a genre of music that moves numbers and we are a force to be reckoned with. And yet, we’re still lacking that merge between Dancehall and the corporate sector.

You have, for instance, a Justin Timberlake who comes out with a record. He’ll be backed by Kellogg’s and Coke and all of that. I don’t think you’ll see the same sort of situation with Dancehall. And a lot of that has to do, in part, with ourselves – we need to make music that has the ability to crossover and make waves. There are just a lot of cats who do music, who do classic songs, who might blow up the place for a minute, but that’s it.

JS: Right, right. What do you like to do in your spare time…if you have any?

Shaggy: Yes, not much spare time at all. My world is just filled with music, you know? I’m total music, all around. That is what I do. So if I’m not making music, I’m promoting music, I’m writing music, I’m doing other peoples’ music. That’s just part of it.

JS: What in life makes you happy or makes you smile?

Shaggy: My kids (he laughs).

JS: How many do you have?

Shaggy: I have three kids; my little daughter is the latest one that’s making me smile. She’s two years old and she’s extremely funny.

JS: What would surprise us to find out about you?

Shaggy: That I am just a regular dude. I think people have a big misconception that Shaggy’s Mr. Luva, Luva, an incredible womanizer and having great parties (we laugh). My life is so not like that. I have a girl that I have been with for the last nine years. I have three kids. I am dominated by music, I must say. That would be the biggest misconception, I think.

JS: Well you kinda answered the next question. I was going to ask, for the ladies, are you married?

Shaggy: No, no, no. I am not married, but I have been with someone for quite some time.

JS: Where do you display your Grammy?

Shaggy: Funny enough, someone asked me about that Grammy three or four days ago. I lost it for a minute (we laugh). Not like I “lost it” lost it but it was in my house, somewhere. Nobody could find it ‘cause it was in a box somewhere. I recently just displayed it. There is this mantle that hols a whole bunch of awards. I think my housekeeper just decided that she is going to put them all up. I came back off tour and every award was up. So, I didn’t know where it was, but I guess she did.

JS: Is there a major tour in the works for you now?

Shaggy: Right now, it’s just promotion. I think next year [‘08] we’re going into the concert tours. Right now, it’s just a promotional tour.

JS: Well, that wraps it up. Thank you for a great interview and have a great tour!

Shaggy: Thank you very much. Bless.

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