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Reggae star Shaggy shakes up the charts and New York

posted 23 Aug 2011, 13:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 23 Aug 2011, 14:23 ]
Reggae star Shaggy talks about his new release "Summer in Kingston". Cameras also capture Shaggy's in-the-moment reaction to the earthquake which shook New York.

REUTERS / RANCH ENTERTAINMENT -  After a twenty-year career reggae superstar Shaggy is still a key figure in the music industry and is still shaking up the charts.

The Jamaican-born, New York raised singer/rapper first hit the charts in 1993 with the hit single "Oh Carolina." In 1995 the song "Boombastic" dominated the charts. Five years later the song "It Wasn't Me" made him not only a mega reggae star, but a also a pop star.

"It really felt good, but at the same time I came from a hardcore dance hall era. I was having this international mainstream success and all of a sudden the dance hall era didn't want me anymore, the streets was like - he's cross over. And obviously we went in and we did 'Church Heathen' and these other songs that were big dance hall records," Shaggy told Reuters.

Shaggy's untrained, trademark singing voice and style has set him apart from other reggae stars. In addition, he has learned how to craft music that will attract both reggae fans and pop music lovers.

"You have to make it a little bit ambiguous, a little bit cheeky, because that's our MO and slightly naughty, you know what I mean. But at the same time good fun and just easy to relate to," said Shaggy of his songwriting technique.

As a result Shaggy has been able to continuously tour the world off the success of his radio-friendly hits, preferring the stage over the tedious recording process.

"I came into music for touring, that's my main thing for doing music. I like that, that interaction with an audience, I like that one-on-one, it's almost, it's very truthful, you know, its not sugar coated, it's either they like you or there don't," explained Shaggy.

And while he may not like recording, his record sales have made him only the second reggae artist to receive a Diamond Certification for his 2001 album "Hot Shot" denoting worldwide sales of more than 10 million copies. Six million of those were sold in the U.S.

In July Shaggy released his first mainstream studio album in roughly nine years, "Summer in Kingston". In order to make sure all his fans were able to hear his new music Shaggy sold the CD digitally for $2.99.

"$2.99 (USD) is the recession price. It's almost like a fan appreciation. We've been gone away for such a long time, coming back we wanted to do something that the fans could really acquire for cheap and really fall in love with," said Shaggy.

In the eight song collection, Shaggy's goal was to feature the fun and upbeat side of Jamaica, something he feels is needed during this hard recession period.

"It's a feel good album, it's almost like that nice summer rollercoaster ride, it's got that good vibe to it. And I wanted it to be that way - we are in a rough time now and you know it's recession and everybody is just down. So you just want that feel good record, that record that you put in and just, you know, have a good day with it," said Shaggy.

The former U.S. Marine has devoted part of his time to raising money for a children's hospital in Jamaica. After years of giving money out of his own pocket for years, he started an annual concert in order to bring even more funds to the facility.

"We've brought, first concert 71 pieces of equipment, the other concert over 400 pieces of equipment. And we're doing it again this year on the 29th of December and we're going to raise some more money," Shaggy said with a smile.

Although this star is used to rocking up the charts, Shaggy was understandably a little shaken as New York City was jolted by a minor earthquake.

"Is it me or is this place shaking right now, why is it shaking? Dude, it's shaking so much that this thing is actually moving," said Shaggy looking concerned.

"Summer in Kingston" is available online.