If you grew up in the late 90’s or the early 00’s, ‘Mr. Lover, Lover’ was probably the soundtrack to your life. Shaggy was inescapable; he was everywhere, from radio to posters and all over the neighbour’s wall.
Shaggy’s songs were known for their catchiness and amazing knack of cutting through genders to be accessible to everybody.
Shaggy wants Sri Lanka to expect 3D glasses! “Everyone’s getting 3D glasses,” he nods in all seriousness at the start of the interview with the Sunday Times on Friday afternoon. “I’ve made a video of myself. The audience gets to watch it.”
Then he laughs suddenly. “I’m kidding. Well, Sri Lanka can expect a night to
If his first concert in Sri Lanka is anything to go by, this was certainly promising. The last one is remembered for its sheer success -- as many people have put it, no international artist has achieved the same level of excitement from a Sri Lankan audience since.
These were high expectations to live up to, but he was confident that this time around things would be even better. “I remember the last time we had to perform on a stage that was in the centre of the audience. Man, that was a hard one to get around -- we were turning all over the place so nobody would be left out! Good times though. One thing that stands out from the crowd here is the energy. There’s a lot of love, and we’re very glad, and very excited to be back.”
He’s been called many names -- Mr. Lover, Shaggedelic, Mr. Angel -- but perhaps the most famous is the one that followed his iconic song – “Mr. Boombastic isn’t a name I called myself-people just started calling me that after the song. I prefer it to the rest though, somehow Mr. Angel doesn’t stick well,” grins Shaggy.
Shaggy certainly had an unconventional background. Hailing from Jamaica, the land of reggae, he is one of the very few reggae artists to break into the mainstream music industry. He insists that it comes from trying not to be bored with the genre. “Sometimes, things just work out. I took reggae and concentrated on making it mainstream, to be honest I wasn’t too focused on ‘breaking into the industry’ per se. I guess I suddenly realized that there was this massive potential for a reggae audience that hadn’t been tapped into yet, and just grabbed the opportunity.”
His foray into the music industry came after a stint in the US Marine Corps. “Ah, military wasn’t for me. I did end up performing quite a lot even in the military, though. I was a singer before I joined the army, but I guess I never gave that up even while I was in the army.”
He’s had rough luck in the past. After the release of his hit single ‘Oh Carolina’, he was allegedly dropped by his label for not conforming to their decisions. He went on to establish his own label, Big Yard Music Group, and now produces music as well.
As a producer, Shaggy is a force to be reckoned with. He has launched the careers of many young artists and has one simple rule if you want to work with him. “Be driven. If you want a career in the music industry, then you have to work for it. If I have to call you up to remind you to come in to the studio-well that’s not really going to work man. I want to see my artists play a part in their own success. Just like I did-just like everybody does.”
Being around for almost 20 years, he explains that it’s important to constantly re-invent yourself, if you want to stick around in the music industry. “I’m writing every day. I have studios in all my homes and we see what we can do to change things up a bit.”
Wrapping up the interview, he is all smiles. He’s certainly got enough to be pleased about -- with a career that is back on track and Grammy nominations left, right and centre, Mr. Lover is here to stay.
The Sunday Times is the print media sponsor of the event.