Shaggy headlines at the Shell on Saturday
Almost 15 years after blowing up with a single on the soundtrack to the movie "Sliver," Jamaica-born dancehall reggae artist Shaggy continues to release hit records for his fans.
'Exodus Reggae Concert Series II'
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Waikiki Shell
Call: (877) 750-4400
On the Web: www.exodusconcertseries.com
Hawaii has always been a big supporter of his music, and was instrumental in generating a buzz around the song "It Wasn't Me" when it was released in 2001. Shaggy returns to the islands this weekend, with a Friday performance on the Big Island and as the headliner at the "Exodus Reggae Concert Series II" on Saturday at the Waikiki Shell. Local artists Next Generation, the Mana'o Company, Billy Kekona and Ho'aikane will open.
The Star-Bulletin spoke with Shaggy earlier this week via telephone from the East Coast, where he was in the studio after returning from touring.
Question: We've been told you're back in the studio working on a new album.
Answer: Yeah, I've got a new album coming called "Intoxication." I'm almost at the end of (recording) it right now. I've got Akon, Collie Budz featured ... (and) Sizzla.
Q: Is it going to sound the same as your previous efforts?
A: I've evolved; I'm not doing the same thing. It's actually better for (reggae artists) right now.
Back then, the things I had to go through just to get a record played on mainstream (radio) was hell. Now, the mainstream understands ... a little bit better, so it's easier for me to bring more authentic dancehall to the forefront, which is what I've been fighting for for years.
We've kept having to do remixes and a more crossover style of dancehall just to be accepted ... or basically, just to survive in the game.
Q: Do you admit that some of your earlier music was watered-down for easier consumption by the masses?
A: At that time. Now, it's a little better. After "Hotshot" happened (in 2000), the labels' budgets exploded.
Before that, reggae artists' video budgets was like catering money for the pop guys. We ended up selling something to the tune of 15 million records worldwide. A lot has changed since then.
Q: You moved to the United States from Jamaica during high school and joined the military after you graduated. Does the current situation in the Middle East bring back any memories from your time there?
A: You know what, I'm just happy not to be involved in it at this point. It was rough for me then, and now it's 10 times worse.
I can just imagine what these guys are going through. But it's still a senseless war. All I can say is, "Stay out of the bushes!"
Q: Did your time in the military affect your approach to making music?
A: No, it hasn't, not in the musical context. It certainly has had an effect on me as far as realizing what life is about and giving me that drive to reach my goals.
Life is short. ... I'm trying to make the most of it.
Q: There was a period of time during the late '90s when you kind of faded away from the mainstream for the first time since "Oh Carolina." Looking back, were you worried about the industry turning its back on dancehall?
A: I never stopped making music. I'm the cat who kind of pioneered the whole (dancehall reggae) thing (in the United States), so you get hit with a lot of things like that.
(The record labels) were looking at reggae music as a "flavor of the month" thing. Even after "Boombastic" came out ... we put out the first single on the next album that didn't work, and they didn't give me a second single. They just dropped me (from the label) after that. But at the end of the day, I kept making records.
Q: Hawaii has always been a big supporter of your music, ever since "Oh Carolina."
A: It all started in Hawaii. That was the place ... that pretty much dictated to the rest of the country. It's the place where I've always had a great amount of success.
Q: What do fans have to look forward to this weekend at the Waikiki Shell?
A: This time around, I'm coming with a band. I'm really looking forward to it. Of course, we're going to do all the hits, but we're also going to squeeze in a couple of new things here and there. We'll have a wonderful time.
Q: Bringing it back to new music, what's your current label situation? You left Geffen Records after "Clothes Drop" was released in 2005.
A: Right now, I'm doing it myself. I have "Church Heathen," which is the No. 1 (single) in the Caribbean right now. If I go back to a record company, it will be a major label.
At this point, I have a lot of offers. But I know that right now, I'm spending all my time on this record, and it's working. I can't wait to get to the Shell.