In 2011, Grammy-winning Reggae singer Shaggy released his 10th studio album, Summer In Kingston, and garnered another nomination for his work. In 2012, Mr. Boombastic himself has another arsenal of music ready to unload; however, before he focuses on what’s next musically, he’ll be headlining the annual “Shaggy and Friends” Benefit Concert in Kingston, Jamaica on January 7th.
The concert, which has raised millions of dollars since its inception in 2008, has become bigger, better, and more powerful with every passing year, as new talent is brought on to help a great cause – raising money and awareness for medical equipment that many hospitals in Jamaica cannot afford.
AllHipHop.com got the chance to speak to the Grammy-winner a few days before his concert takes place to talk about his fifth Grammy nomination, the current musical landscape for Dancehall and Reggae, the “Shaggy and Friends” concert, and more:
AllHipHop.com: What’s going on, Shaggy?
Shaggy: Not much, not much.
AllHipHop.com: The first thing I want to ask you about is your Make A Difference Foundation and the Shaggy and Friends Benefit Concert, which is going down on January 7th in Kingston. You’ve already got Lauryn Hill and Maxi Priest on the lineup with you, so tell me a little bit about that.
Shaggy: We just got Eve on board join the concert, too, and the concert is for a cause that is near and dear to myself and a lot of people. The foundation helps children who need surgeries, and we help fund hospitals who have a lack of equipment, and we try our very best to accommodate those things through the medium of a concert. We’ve been able to buy millions of dollars of equipment for these hospitals.
With the concert, we also raise the profile and the awareness of these things going on, and we’ve had some outside entity like the U.S. come over and donate to help the cause as well. I’m just happy and grateful to be a part of all of that.
AllHipHop.com: Well, just based on the money you’ve raised since the benefit’s inception, it’s very clear that both the foundation and concert have been extremely successful, so I want to applaud you for that.
Shaggy: Thank you very much. I really want to applaud my team. Of course, I might be the first face that people thank and recognize, but it couldn’t be done without the help of my team and the people around me, and there’s a whole lot of them.
AllHipHop.com: Well, next, I want to congratulate you on your Grammy nomination.
Shaggy: Thank you.
AllHipHop.com: I wanted to ask you, as someone who has been nominated multiple times in the past, and already won a Grammy back in ’96, what does it mean to you to still be getting recognized for the work that you’re doing?
Shaggy: It means a lot. I have been nominated few times, and at one point when we did Hot Shot, it was never nominated, even though it was the biggest Reggae album of that year, so I felt a little bit snubbed by the Grammy’s at that time. Since then, I’ve learned the ins and outs of how that kind of stuff works, so I don’t worry about it much, but it’s an honor.
AllHipHop.com: So beyond your Grammy nomination, what are your thoughts on the current landscape of Reggae and Dancehall music, specifically in the U.S.?
Shaggy: Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there’s not a lot of chart action. We’re not getting past the basics of the artists that have the potential to cross and have the potential to compete with other types of music out there and genres. That becomes the problem.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that affects, in any way, your process behind the music that you create? Are you trying to appeal to more people with your new music, or are you sticking to the formula of doing what Shaggy has always done best?
Shaggy: The thing about the Reggae market is … it’s just like a movie. You talk to a Spielberg or you talk to any of these guys, they’ll do their Sci-Fi movie, or whatever kind of big movie that brings in a lot of money. It’s good because that way, it helps them fund doing the more organic movie that their heart and soul is in; it’s the same way.
You’ve got to have these songs, these chart-toppers, as records that compete with the mainstream to allow you to do your underground Dancehall sh*t. You can’t just see one side. There’s songs that I have that are true underground Dancehall, but then I have songs that are my crossover songs that I try to get out there. I’m doing an album right now with me and Sly and Robbie, which is a more core album, so it’s got to have a balance so that you can basically make the music that’s a force to be reckoned with and to compete.
AllHipHop.com: Well, your most recent album Summer In Kingston, was released in July and your track record has kind of shown that you tend to put out new music or a new album every two to three years. In 2011 alone, you’ve already released two albums so is this a new pattern that sticking to and are we getting a new Shaggy album in 2012?
Shaggy: I think you’re referring to the Shaggy and Friends album, which is not an album that was ever commissioned by me.
AllHipHop.com: OK, hmmm…
Shaggy: That was commissioned by my former best friend and former manager, and I did not have anything to do with that release. That release was supposed to be on our website only, which ended up being put out which I did not approve of. So as far as I’m concerned, I only put one album out last year, which was Summer In Kingston.
AllHipHop.com: Going forward then, do you have plans to release a new album this year or at least to release some new music?
Shaggy: I have 200 songs, like I have a studio in my home, so I’m recording constantly. It’s a daily thing for me, so to put records together and create an album is easy. I could just pick a bunch of things that I already got, so to compile records for an album is not a big deal. I normally put records out, but to put a body of work and an album out I don’t know.
I’m continuously putting singles out, whether it’s Dancehall singles or Pop singles or Dance singles, you know there’s songs that I’ve released in Europe that are on the dance chart that have not been released in America yet. I tour on that in the European dance market. So for me it’s just constantly putting out records ,and it’s not to just get more hits. You can go to a Shaggy show, and there’s some songs I can’t even finish the f*cking song because I only have a certain amount of time to do it. I want to perform the hits in a certain amount of time, and I’ve got a lot of hits [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: That you do.
Shaggy: The reason for doing a record is basically to raise the profile. Out of sight is out of mind.
AllHipHop.com: And you’ve clearly got enough material in the safe to put out another ten albums right now if you wanted to I’m sure.
Shaggy: Absolutely, but I still love making new ones [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: Well, it was a pleasure to speak with you, and once again, best of luck at the concert and at the Grammy’s!
Shaggy: Thank you.
For More Information Visit www.ShaggyOnline.com