Jamaican musician Shaggy, born as Orville Richard Burrell CD, became one of the biggest crossover successes in dancehall reggae. Even 18 years after the release of hit single “It Wasn’t Me”, people can’t help but sing along to the catchy lyrics whenever it is played. To date he is one of reggae’s most popular artists.
Shaggy was born on October 22, 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica. When he was 18 he left Jamaica to live with his mom in Brooklyn, NY. In high school Shaggy would perform and practice rapping on his lunch breaks and in the streets with his friends. One day he was discovered in the streets by New York’s premier reggae radio DJ and producer Sting (not to be confused with Sting from The Police). Shaggy and Sting released two songs called “Mampie” and “Big Up”, both of which reached number one on the New York reggae charts.
In 1988 Shaggy had to take a break from his music. He joined the Marines and was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He still worked on his music in his free time, even sometimes making the drive back to New York for recording sessions. In 1991 though, he was sent to Kuwait for 5 months for Operation Desert Storm. The highest rank he achieved during his time in the marines was lance corporal. Once Shaggy returned from the Middle East, his music career began to take off.
Beginnings of Career
In 1993 Shaggy released a remake of a Folkes Brothers song called “Oh Carolina”. The single became a hit around the world but not as much in the U.S. The song also appeared in the film Silver. Shaggy was performing in a number of countries, including South Africa. He was the first dancehall artist to perform in South Africa after the abolishment of apartheid. Following the success of “Oh Carolina”, Shaggy released his debut album in 1993 called Pure Pleasure. A year later Shaggy teamed up with the record label Greensleeves to release another album called Original Doberman. Shaggy’s popularity was growing in Europe but it was time for him to take over the U.S. too. In 1995 Shaggy released Boombastic. This was Shaggy’s most successful album at the time. It won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. The title track sold over a million copies in the U.S. and earned a platinum certification. The release of Boombastic broadened Shaggy’s fan base, setting him up to continue to be a star all over the world.
The reggae star released his fourth studio album called Midnite Lover in 1997, but was not as lucrative as his previous album. Therefore, the record label he was working with –Virgin – dropped him. He spent the next few years being featured on soundtracks because he was no longer part of a record label. Janet Jackson featured Shaggy on her song “Luv Me Luv Me” which caught the attention of MCA Records.
MCA Records ultimately signed Shaggy and together they released Shaggy’s fifth studio album, Hot Shot. Hot Shot ended up being the most popular and successful piece of work of Shaggy’s career. The album featured two hit singles “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me”, arguably two of the hottest songs of the 2000s decade. Hot Shot went on to be certified 6X Platinum in the U.S. and sold over 6 million copies. No other reggae album has come close to this triumph in the U.S. The album also resulted in Shaggy becoming the first reggae artist to top the Billboard 200.
Shaggy’s following albums did not match the incredible success of Hot Shot. Lucky Day was released in 2002 and found some success in Europe with the single “Hey Sexy Lady”. This album eventually ended up being certified gold. In 2004, Shaggy was featured on Toots and the Maytals’ album, True Love which ended up winning a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. Shaggy was in the company of a few other popular artists on this album including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Gwen Stefani, Ben Harper, and The Roots.
Shaggy is back again and is going on tour with former The Police band member, Sting. The unlikely pair is teaming up for their 44/876 tour and will be performing across North America. The tour kicks off in Miami on September 15. Make sure to get your tickets for Shaggy and Sting today!