Shaggy: Sunshine Soldier

“Everyone thinks that the minute you do commercial records there’s no way you’re going to survive within the dancehall.” That’s an honest statement coming from multi-platinum selling reggae artist and Grammy winner Shaggy, born Orville Richard Burrell 42 years ago in Jamaica. But if anyone has proven you can still engage core fans while becoming a pop star it’s Shaggy, who simultaneously issues upbeat crossover recordings – such as his latest album, Summer in Kingston -- alongside more traditional reggae singles like “Sweet Jamaica,” recorded at his home island studio. A former U.S. Marine and Operation Desert Storm veteran, Burrell, who emigrated to Brooklyn at age 18, has had nothing but success since re-making The Folkes Brothers’ classic Jamaican boogie number “Oh Carolina” in 1993.

"Feeling Alive feat. Agent Sasco" Shaggy

"Sugarcane" Shaggy

Summer in Kingston, however, is more geared toward audiences that know “It Wasn’t Me,” Burrell’s ubiquitous hit from 2000’s Hot Shot LP. The new album features production from longtime collaborators Sting International and Teflon, and its eight tracks are lead by the catchy “Sugarcane.”

Similar to the lyrics in “It Wasn’t Me,” “Sugarcane” features a healthy dose of sexual innuendo. The song is like a modern update on bawdy 1950s Calypso numbers like Lord Creator’s “Big Bamboo,” which, in the end, come off more playful than X-rated. “It has undertones with the lyrics, ‘she likes the taste of my sugarcane,’” Burrell says. “I think it’s important to be able to write adult content without it being explicit.”

The video for “Sugarcane” features a humorous narrative about English women who fall in love with Jamaica and don’t want to return to their stuffy former lives. With beach scenes and elegant Caribbean architecture, Burrell notes that the video intentionally showcases Jamaica in a positive light. It comes at a time when the country needs a boost, following 2010’s deadly army campaign to arrest an alleged drug baron wanted by the U.S. “Jamaica was being portrayed as this place where everything bad happens,” Burrell mentions. “We just wanted to come with a different flavor.”

Summer in Kingston includes sunny numbers like “The Only One (Lie To Me)” and a cover of ‘60s rocksteady singer Ken Boothe’s hit “Just Another Girl” by talented vocalist Tarrus Riley. Then there are songs like “Feelin’ Alive” featuring Agent Sasco (a.k.a. Assassin) aimed right at the contemporary dancehall/hip-hop market. The recording came from a spontaneous meeting with longtime friend Sasco: “We were doing another song with [reggae singer] Christopher Martin and he walked in and was like ‘I like dem style a’ songs,’ so I came up with [Feelin’ Alive] and he jumped on it,” Burrell says.

Another way Burrell literally keeps folks feeling alive is through his charity work for Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston. Burrell’s organized annual benefit concerts and recorded songs to aid the institution. “I went down [to the hospital] later on and there was a little girl who had a bullet lodged in her head. That’s when I decided to take things a little further and start doing the Shaggy and Friends concert series,” he says. “After the first one we were able to buy 71 new pieces of equipment. After the last concert we brought them 400 pieces of equipment.”

The next concert is scheduled for December 29th, and Burrell will have plenty of material to choose from. He explains that he had 200 unreleased songs to pick from for Summer in Kingston’s eventual eight tracks, “I own my own studio, so we’re always making records.” With that output level, Shaggy should be pleasing all kinds of audiences for years to come. -- Tomas A. Palermo

"Feeling Alive feat. Agent Sasco" Shaggy

"Sugarcane" Shaggy


Anonymous said...

Orville Richard Burrell - great man!!!

SnoWhite ♥ said...

Hot Tracks ♥ Sexy Accent ♥ DCU's ♥ Generous ♥

You are too hot for words...keep doing what you are doing ♥

Chris4larmond said...

mad ting i have the album and i love it

//Sub/Corpus said...

Hate "Sugarcane" ...
“Feelin’ Alive” featuring Agent Sasco is OK ...

Mc.Leod said...

Nice :-D

Anonymous said...

Shaggy fan pre-Pure Pleasure! Great to look at, listen to, and hear about. Love the philanthropic work! Hugz!

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