He was born Orville Richard Burell in Kingston Jamaica in October 22 1968, and he was nicknamed after scooby doo’s famous sidekick. I’m talking about Shaggy, the undisputed king of Dancehall Reggae. In the following paragraphs, you’ll get a glimpse into his rich and successful career that spanned for over two decades and that was sustained by the release of many memorable albums. So, read on to know more about Shaggy, from his early humble beginings, to his rise to stardom.
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Shaggy moved to New York at the age of 18 to join his mother in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. He was not late to find himself a place in the local reggae scene and began performing with local Jamaican-style sound system Gibraltar Musik.
At the age of 20, Shaggy started his recording career by releasing « Man a mi Yard » and « Bullet Proof Buddy » for producer Don One. He then followed up by releasing two more singles « big hood » and « Duppy or Uglyman » for producer Lloyd « Sipederman » Campbell.
Shaggy really started to hit his stride when he teamed up with New York’s premier reggae radio DJ and producer, Sting (born « Shaun Pizzonia ») and saw his next single « Mampie » rise to the number one spot in the New York Reggae charts. His following hit « Big Up » was even more successful among the local New York Reggae fans and was the first of several duets with Brooklyn singer Rayvon.
Unfortunately, and right when Shaggy’s career started picking up steam, it came to a sudden halt in 1991 when he was called to fulfill his military obligations and was sent to Kuwait for a five month tour of duty during Operation Desert Storm.
Upon his return from the Gulf War, Shaggy was stationed in Camp LeJeune, in North Carolina. During that period, he used to painstakingly drive to New York City for 18 hours every weekend to record his music. And it was also during that period that he released his smash hit « Oh Carolina » which was a cover of The Folks Brothers hit that was originally recorded for Prince Buster’s Label. In the beginning, « Oh Carolina » wasn’t that much of a big hit in the US where it stalled in the lower half of the charts despite its inclusion in Sharon Stone’s movie « Silver ». However, and thanks to oversees promotions, it was released in the UK in late 1992 and immediately made it to the top of British pop charts . The song encountered the same success in other countries around the world. The world wide success of « Oh Carolina » and the following duet with « Maxi Priest » in « One More Chance », landed Shaggy a very juicy deal with « Virgin Records ».
Shaggy’s first album for Virgin Records was titled « Pure Pleasure » and it instantly established him as one of the most exciting voices in Reggae. The album was released in 1993 and it included a collection of the artist’s recent recordings. A collection of Shaggy’s earlier recordings was also released in 1994 by Greensleeves and it was called « Original Doberman ».
After establishing himself firmly in Europe with his first releases, Shaggy went on to conquer the US by releasing « Bombastic ». The Album took reggae music to new heights on pop, rap, and R&B charts throughout the world and reached platinum record sales in the United States. In 1995, « Bombastic » won The Grammy Award For Best Reggae Album in The United States and became the longest numberone reign in the charts history after holding the top spot on Billboards Reggae Album Chart for 30 consecutive weeks.
Shaggy then went on a world tour and, in 1996, he reunited with Maxi Priest to release a duet titled »That Girl ». 1997 saw the release of Sahggy’s third Album « Midnight Lover » which was judged by Virgin Records to be a commercial flop and precipitated their break up with the singer. But this was not going to keep Shaggy out of action for very long. In fact, and in an effort to remain in the public eye, the artist turned to movie soundtracks and contributed songs to movies like « For love of the game » and « Speed 2 : Cruise Control ». In fact, it was after his contribution to the soundtrack of « How Stella Got her Groove Back » with the duet « Luv me, Luv me » that featured Janet Jackson, that he got noticed by MCA who offered him a new contract.
It has to be said that, by that time, it was believed that Shaggy’s best years were already behind him and many considered him a « has been ». And to complicate matters even more, « Hot Shot » which was Shaggy’s first album for MCA, stalled in the US charts upon its release. But, in a magical turn of fate, a disc jockey from Honolulu named Pablo Sato downloaded the song « It Wasn’t Me » from Napster and he began playing it on his show until it became an overnight hit in Hawaii. The song then quickly became a national hit and vaulted to the number one spot in national pop charts in the US and in Europe along with its follow up « Angel » which featured Rayvon on vocals.
In the meantime, the album « Hot Shot » remained 6 weeks on the top of the album charts and went on to become the biggest selling Reggae album ever with about 6 million copies sold in the US Alone and paid off MCA in spades for the faith they put in Shaggy. The year 2002 saw the release of « Mr Lover Lover: The best Of Shaggy Vol 1 » by Virgin records which was a compilation covering the years of the artist with the label. During that same Year, MCA released a remix album : « Hot Shot Ultramix ». Before the year was through, Shaggy also released a new album that was a kind of a tribute to women and that was titled « Lucky day ». The album sold fairly well, went Gold and ended the year in the top 30 charts both in Pop and R&B listings even though Its first two singles « Hey Sexy Lady » and « Strength Of A Woman » didn’t fare well in the charts.
Shaggy returned to the scene in 2005 with « Clothes Drop », a release he did with the Geffen label. « Church Heathen » dominated the dancehall scenes in 2007 mainly thanks to its video clip featuring « Ninjaman » and was included in the Album « Intoxication » that same year. In 2011, Shaggy collaborated with his long time friends Ricardo « Rikrok » Ducent and Rayvon to release his ninth album « Shaggy & Friends ». The album was followed just a few months later by an EP named « Summer In Kingston » which yielded the hit single « Sugarcane ». Shaggy then teamed up with legendary producers Sly and Robbie to release « Out of many, one music » by the end of 2013. Another multicultural collaboration with Swedish-Congolese singer Mohambi, Australian-Lebanese singer/songwriter Faydee and Romanian Singer/Songwriter Costi resulted in the international hit « Habibi (I need your love) ».
The song that was sung in English Arabic And Spanish, climbed to number 66 on the Billboard 100 in 2015 and paved the way for more collaborations over the next years with Pittbull (only love), Omi (seasons) and other singers such as with Kylie Minogue, Mylène Farmer, Fernando Garibay. and producer Scott Storch for the release of « that love » during the summer of 2016.
Finally, any article about the great life achievements of Shaggy would not be complete without a mention of his Charity « The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation » and its dedicated work. The charity produces the annual « Shaggy And Friends Benefit Concert » to raise money for the « Bustmante Hospital for children » which is the only children’s hospital in the English speaking Caribbean region.
So far, the efforts of the foundation have not only contributed greatly to improving the quality of care provided by the Bustamante Hospital, but it also contributed immeasurably in improving the morale of the staff and brought hope to the patients and their families.
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