SHAGGY IS an undoubted legend. His career has spanned three decades, in which time he has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, with two US number ones four British ones, and 16 top 40 UK singles.
His latest set, Wah Gwaan?!, comes hot off the heels of his boundary-breaking album with Sting, 44/876. The album won the 2019 reggae Grammy, and the two superstars then hit the road on an extensive world tour, which was the third highest global grossing of 2018.
One of the most impressive elements of Shaggy’s character is the way he always
makes reference to his homeland, his musical base, and is a proud advocate of Jamaican culture – the title of his album with Sting combined the international dialling code of the UK and his Caribbean home.
So here for you is the track by track guide to his new album, designed to get you geared up to stream it!
This album continues in the line of previous Shaggy sets that have shone the spotlight on many of his collaborators as well as himself. It kicks off with Caribbean Way, produced by the legendary Tony ‘CD’ Kelly and with an infectious beat which signifies classic Shaggy – aimed at celebrating the bubbling skills of the ladies. After all, it’s the Caribbean Way!
On to When She Loves Me, which features long-time team member Rayvon and the tempo drops to the signature Shaggy two-step. Produced by Dave Kelly, this is shaping up to be one of the bigger tracks on the set.
Track three, You, is the first official single from the album. It features Alexander Stewart (a new name to me), but as usual Shaggy manages to break boundaries and choose the right voices that complement his unique style. We predict that this will be a big song over the summer (particularly in America).
Gene Noble features on Friends, which probably repre- sents the one of the wider excursions from traditional dancehall, but Shaggy nevertheless manages to incorporate those core elements such as a dancehall clapping percussion beat and an ‘80s dancehall vocal refrain that brings you right back to what you know and love.
Track five was the initial introduction to the album at core level. Money Up features acclaimed DJ and selector Noah Powa. It was (and still is) a big tune in the dances in Jamaica, and proved to be the perfect introduction to the new set for the audience.
Shaggy’s ability to hand-pick the right people to work with (such as Noah) and to show that he isn’t too far gone to roll with those people was proved with the video, which was shot in Grants Pen in Kingston – no beaches in sight!
Speaking of working with the right people, track six blows the fanfare for Stacy Barthe and Shenseea. The silky vocals pro- vided by Barthe coupled with Shaggy’s skippy flow and Shenseea’s edge makes Supernatural a de nite highlight of the set.
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room!” – That is what Shaggy tells us his mother taught him. Over the years he has shown us how he has navigated smartly and safely through this industry and Wrong Room outlines that street-smart mentality.
Praise takes us to church from the organ intro before jumping into dancehall-inspired drums. It’s exactly what the title suggests, seeing Shaggy giving thanks and praise for the many blessings throughout his life. This is dancehall gospel but with a surprise African-inspired breakdown. Amen!
Ketch Mi Up – Shaggy has never been shy to tell you of his success as a mainstream dancehall chart-topper. The proof is in the numbers and he tells you in the rst verse: “Num- ber nuh lie when them check Spotify, dem say mi old school, but mi still a multiply.” The steady Reggaeton- avoured riddim by Tony Kelly is slow and steady so you can absorb every line.
Use Me definitely shows Mr Boombastic in 2019. The perfect mix of R’n’B with dancehall drums brings back out Mr Lover Lover. “What’s the use if him can mek you happy,” is what Shaggy sings to his female fans if they have “wutless” men in their lives.
This is the kind of formula Shaggy has used time and time again to succeed in the charts.
Then in Makeup Sex, Shaggy teams up with Nyanda that we know from Brick & Lace for another fun pop dancehall-driven song. The chorus is catchy and cheeky from Nyanda, before Shaggy jumps in on the verses. It’s another one that is easy to latch on to.
After that, Nicky Jam brings Shaggy into that Latin Market. Body Good is a feel-good party record designed for the ladies. This another track soaked with the Reggaeton sound showing the importance of that distinct sound to listeners.
The lyrics in Live hit home hard. If you work hard to provide for your family then you will get this song 100 per cent.
Shaggy sings “I forgot how to live, live, live” as he looks in the mirror and realise he’s always on the road which comes with sacrifices. Thought-provoking. Closing the album is one of the highlights, Frenemy, which talks of the disappointment that comes with success. “You see good friends change like the weather…”
This is probably the hardest track on the album lyrically and production with Dave Kelly delivering once more. So there you have it – a track- by-track breakdown of an album you need in your life.
Don’t wait six months then say you never knew – go cop that now!