Proving himself as one of the premier crossover acts in the history of music, Dancehall/Reggae superstar, Shaggy has transcended various genres; becoming one of Jamaica’s greatest artistes. Though criticized by some for ignoring the “true” Dancehall/Reggae sound, Shaggy’ defied all odds by creating melodies and songs that people of all generations worldwide could listen to.
Orville Richard Burrell was born on October 22, 1968; growing up in JA until he moved with his mother to the Jamaica-influenced Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York in the United States. While in Brooklyn, Burrell took singing courses and gained popularity amongst locals; performing with the local Jamaican-style sound system Gibraltar Musik.
Despite gathering momentum in his pursuit to become a successful musician, making money from the profession proved a tough task; prompting Burrell to join the United States Marine Corps, where he was stationed in North Carolina. Though he became a member of the armed forces, Burrell wrote music during his spare time; recording his debut single, Bullet Proof Buddy at 20 years of age, produced by Don One.
Burrell built confidence as he continued to record music over the next two years; combining with producer, Philip Smart to record dub plates including Mampie and Big Up alongside Brooklyn-based singer, Rayvon. However, Burrell’s musical pursuit was sidetracked by his military obligations; serving during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Once Burrell returned from the war, he continued to build his repertoire as a musician; adopting the stage name “Shaggy” for his hairstyle as well as the popular character in the Scooby Doo cartoon series. After resuming his recording sessions in New York, Shaggy cut his first mainstream hit song, Oh Carolina, which was a remake of the Folkes Brothers’ ska hit. Despite’s its failure to make an impact in the United States, the song resonated well with fans back home and even charted to the top of the British pop charts that year. The single featured on Shaggy’s debut album, Pure Pleasure in October 1993.
Following his sophomore album, Original Doberman that featured the aforementioned Bullet-Proof Buddy and Chow alongside Sugar Minott, Shaggy’s career took full flight with the release of his third album, Boombastic the following year. The title track for the album topped the charts in several countries including Australia and the United Kingdom whilst achieving #1 on the U.S Billboard R&B Chart.
The song and accompanying video made Shaggy a local and worldwide phenomenon; offering a pulsating baritone-range voice and lyrical dexterity that won him millions of fans worldwide; particularly female fans. Meanwhile, the album also featured singles such as In The Summertime alongside Rayvon and The Train Is Coming with Reggae legend, Ken Boothe. The Boombastic album went platinum in the U.S and made Shaggy one of the first premiere acts to open doors internationally for fellow Jamaican artistes. Furthermore, the album’s success culminated in Shaggy winning the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.
Following a minor hit with his fourth album, Midnite Lover in 1997, Shaggy re-invented himself once more and, by 2000, created the classic album, Hot Shots. Several internationally-acclaimed hits resulted from Shaggy fifth studio effort as it produced memorable singles such as Luv Me, Luv Me as well as the international chart-topping singles, Angel (with Rayvon) and It Wasn’t Me alongside new protégé, Rik Rok. The singles became such fan favourites in the United States that Hot Shots was certified diamond; selling close to nine million copies in the North American country while selling close to 20 million units worldwide. It remains one of the best-selling projects by a Jamaican artiste.
Shaggy next album, Lucky Day, in 2002 didn’t accomplish nearly as much success but provided several major hits nonetheless including Strength Of A Woman and the sultry track, Hey Sexy Lady featuring Brian and Tony Gold. The album also featured guest appearances from fellow Dancehall legend, Barrington Levy and American R&B legend, Chaka Khan.
In 2005, fans witnessed Shaggy seventh studio album, Clothes Drop, where he released another well-received set of singles including, Ready Fi Di Ride, Wild 2 Nite featuring former G-Unit first lady, Olivia as well as a remix of Barrington Levy’s classic single, Here I Come entitled Broadway. The album also featured multiple appearances for Pussycat Dolls lead single, Nicole Scherzinger and Black Eyed Peas lead artiste and producer, Will.I.Am.
For Shaggy’s next project, Intoxication in 2007, the artiste focused his attention towards building his already strong foundation locally; unveiling the classic Reggae single, Bonafide Girl alongside Rik Rok. The song was a major hit in Jamaica as well as the Caribbean given its natural Reggae sound. Another major hit was the song and accompanying video for Church Heathen, which featured vocals from Dancehall superstar, Ninja Man. The controversial single called out persons who appeared in church who appeared innocent but had their share of raunchy secrets. The song earned clout from Shaggy locally; re-emphasizing his presence as a Jamaican stalwart. Additionally that year, Shaggy sang the soundtrack for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, hosted by the West Indies. He was also awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction for the rank of Commander.
In April 2008, Shaggy recorded the theme song for the EURO 2008 football tournament in Austria and Switzerland entitled, Feel The Rush while Intoxication was nominated for the Best Reggae Album at that year’s Grammy Awards. His biggest single for that year was yet another classic Reggae song, Bad Man Don’t Cry. The accompanying video for the single, directed by Jay Will is still regarded as one of the greatest local videos of all time; creating a mini-movie aura. Both the song and video charted very well locally and once again built Shaggy’s solid reputation.
Attempting to use his celebrity for the greater good, Shaggy created the Save A Life charity initiative in late 2008; creating a concert series for which its proceeds went to the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston. An all-star cast joined Shaggy for the single, Save A Life that year including, Elephant Man, Sean Paul and Christopher Martin to name a few. To date, Shaggy’s Save A Life concert series raised over $JA57 million in its two editions; returning early next year with international acts such as Lauryn Hill and Ne-Yo appearing on the line-up card.
Since the turn of the new decade, Shaggy’s released several more highly-acclaimed singles including the sultry collaboration, For Your Eyes Only with Reggae songstress, Alaine and Rise Again, an all-star collaboration dedicated to the victims of the Haitian earthquake in January 2010. This year, Shaggy released another hit collaboration, Girlz Dem Luv We with prominent Dancehall singjay, Mavado. This past summer, Shaggy released his 10th studio album, Summer In Kingston which was entirely recorded in Jamaica. The album’s lead single, Sugarcane, became another classic to add to Shaggy’s long list, charting well locally and overseas whilst other singles earned acclaim such as Feeling Alive with Agent Sasco and Fired Up (F**k The Recession).
Shaggy boasts one of the strongest resumes of Jamaican artistes ever and will always be revered as a pioneer for fellow local artistes who look to strive overseas. Making waves all across the world, Shaggy is not only a Dancehall/Reggae icon but a musician whose legacy can never be questioned.