Although his last single was 2015’s “Habibi (I Need Your Love),” it’s been a minute since Shaggy released a full-length project. In fact, it’s been three years since the singer/songwriter’s last album, the Sly & Robbie-produced Out of Many, One Music.
After taking time off in the interim to revamp everything from management (he’s now with Compound Entertainment, whose roster includes Ne-Yo) to signing with a new label (Brooklyn Nights/Sony Red), Shaggy is quickly making up for lost time. “Mr. Boombastic” is now officially back with “I Got You” — which he calls a “great launching pad” for the next step in his career. Featuring Kingston, Jamaica, singer/songwriter Jovi Rockwell, the exuberant track samples James Brown’s 1965 No. 1 R&B hit of the same name.
“I’m still amazed at how the universe works,” says Shaggy, who toured with Brown in 2006. “This was a guy who somehow took a liking to me. Everyone around him had to call him Mr. Brown, but I could call him ‘The Godfather’ or ‘The Showstopper.’”
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Fast-forward several years later and Shaggy attended a showcase for friend Jovi Rockwell when her manager played him several of her compositions — including “I Got You.” Recalls Shaggy, “Her manager asked me what I thought about that song and I said I thought it was a hit.”
Shaggy then recorded a verse for the track at Rockwell’s request. But after ultimately deciding the song didn’t fit the direction she was targeting, Rockwell gave the song to Shaggy. With his production team, Shaggy says they enhanced the sample and added “more crashes” to the mix.
“Many tracks now have a dancehall feel to them,” he adds. “But to come out with a record that’s dancehall and with a James Brown sample in it is keeping it authentic and cool. This is a disruptive record that doesn’t sound like anything else that’s out there, which is in keeping with what I’ve done over the years.”
Shaggy scored his first top 15 single in 1993 with “Oh Carolina.” In addition to “Boombastic,” the reggae fusion star’s chart hits include “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel.” Among his 12 studio albums (including his multiplatinum 2000 mainstream breakthrough Hot Shot), the former Marine counts one Grammy winner for best reggae album, Boombastic, as well as three more Grammy-nominated sets: Clothes Drop, Intoxication, Summer in Kingston and Out of Many, One Music.
As for his forthcoming album, Shaggy says he’s considering the tentative title Mr. Lover. “The whole album talks about relationships,” Shaggy says. “When I look at my catalog, most of my songs are about love or relationships. And I’m smart enough to say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. This album is a pop roller coaster ride with strong Jamaican flavors.”
The last track Shaggy recorded for the album is titled “That Love.” He describes the track as fun, energetic and reminiscent of the immediate creative spark that fueled “Boombastic.” As he explains, “The minute I heard the track for ‘That Love’ at 2 a.m. one morning, I caught the melody right away. I woke up later that morning and started jotting down lyrics.”
Earlier this month, Shaggy shot videos for “I Got You” and “That Love” concurrently in Los Angeles. Both will be available in the near future.
Aside from music, Shaggy continues to raise funds through his Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation. Created to purchase sorely needed medical equipment for Kingston’s Bustamante Hospital for Children, the seven-year-old foundation’s current goal is building the hospital’s first cardiac unit. This past January, his annual “Shaggy & Friends” concert series pushed the foundation’s total funds raised to just over $2 million.