Shaggy is known the world over for chart-topping reggae-flavored pop tunes like "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel" (both from his certified diamond 2000 album Hotshot). What most people don't know is that the Jamaica-born Brooklyn-raised entertainer came up in the dancehalls of Flatbush, spitting lyrics alongside the hardest visiting artists from yard—when he wasn't on active duty as a U.S. Marine. The only thing pop about his life back then was the pop-pop of gunfire in the Biltmore Ballroom or on the battlefields of Operation Desert Storm.
On his latest album Shaggy re-connects with his rub-a-dub reggae roots by collaborating with the legendary "Riddim Twins," drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare. Additional production on the album is handled by Shaggy's longtime beat-tweaker Sting International and Lenky Marsden, the man behind the massive "Diwali" riddim (among others) who give Sly & Robbie's throwback grooves a thoroughly modern sheen. Shaggy's guest list on this record is extensive, ranging from R&B singers like Ne-Yo, Joe, and Jimmy Cosier to Jamaican reggae stars Beres Hammond, Cocoa Tea, Tarrus Riley, and Peetah Morgan to young guns like Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Konshens, and Chronixx—not to mention strong female vocalists like The Voice contestant Tessanne Chin and newcomers Samira and Melissa Musique.
While traditional roots reggae now seems to be more popular outside Jamaica than in the land of its origin, there is simply no denying the power of a sweet melody and a one-drop beat. "Can't Fight This Feeling," Shaggy's combination with Beres, is already approaching modern classic status. Although this album is unlikely to move 10 million copies, it will always hold a special place in Shaggy's catalog—and rightly so. It may not be another Hotshot, but it's a certified Boomshot. —Rob Kenner