Trends change, artists' careers ebb and flow but few have navigated the uncertainties of the music industry as skillfully and as successfully as Shaggy. The Jamaica-born, Brooklyn-raised deejay born Orville Burrell has played a pivotal role in taking dancehall reggae into the mainstream. He won the 1996 best reggae album Grammy for Boombastic and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001 with "Angel" and "It Wasn't Me" from Hot Shot, which crowned the Billboard 200 and sold over 10 million copies worldwide within a year of its release. But before that, he was dismissed as a one-hit wonder, criticized as too pop leaning to be authentically dancehall and dropped by the labels for whom he made millions of dollars.
Through it all, Shaggy has remained focused and figured out how to advantageously position his talents within the popular music landscape. "I have always been that guy that reinvents himself. There are going to be waves within an artist's career and you have to be strong enough to know that even when you aren't riding that wave, your talent doesn't stop," Shaggy told Billboard. "So, if the trend of music is going one way, I just try to fit into that trend but Shaggy-tize it. It's a formula that works so if it ain't broke, why fix it?"
To Shaggy-tize means crafting an impeccable, resounding Jamaican patois flow that's alternately sly, humorous, somewhat boastful, consistently clever and is easily adaptable to dancehall, electronic, pop, rock, soul and reggae rhythms. That formula proved successful as early as 1993 with Shaggy's breakthrough hit, the brilliantly quirky "Oh Carolina," which reached No. 59 on the Hot 100; two decades on, it's still a highly effective recipe, because 2018 ranked among the most remarkable times of Shaggy's 30-plus year career, with 2019 continuing along an equally stellar route. In January 2018, Shaggy brought pop icon Sting to Kingston, Jamaica, as the headlining act for his biennial fundraising concert Shaggy and Friends (which in 2018 raised one million U.S. dollars for the ICU at Kingston's Bustamante Children's Hospital); there, the duo delivered the debut performance of "Don't Make Me Wait," the first single from their collaborative album, 44/876 (A&M/Interscope/Cherrytree Music Company). An unlikely pairing that many said would never work, Sting and Shaggy's 44/876 was 2018's best-selling reggae album; the first leg of their summer 2018 European tour ranked as the fourth highest grossing of the period, according to Billboard's Hot Tours tally. In February 2019, Shaggy hosted the Grammy Awards' Premiere Ceremony prior to the main telecast, with 44/876 awarded the best reggae album Grammy. The duo is currently featured in a European commercial for Fiat 500, part of the Italian auto brand's 120th anniversary campaign, singing "Just One Lifetime," the current single from 44/876; their UK tour begins on May 19.