According to Claudia Gardener – Dancehall Mag, June 23, 2021
Shaggy says current Dancehall artists are trying to fix something that wasn’t broken, with their penchant for Trap beats over authentic Dancehall riddims. The Dancehall megastar believes the genre would be more successful today if it stuck to its traditional roots and beats, but Dancehall acts in Jamaica are unwittingly content with being “in a bubble” as domestic stars, having not realized that they are capable of greater accomplishments.
Shaggy was speaking on The Breakfast Club morning show with Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy in New York on Tuesday, where he and Dancehall diva Spice were promoting her debut album TEN, for which he is the executive producer.
Charlamagne asked Shaggy how he felt about the evolution of Dancehall.
“If you ask the average DJ, that’s on a global scale, what kind of Dancehall will move a party, they’re gonna tell you it’s 90s Dancehall, and the difference between current dancehall and 90s dancehall is the beat,” Shaggy responded. “So we’ve actually tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.”
According to Shaggy, other genres like Reggaetón and Afrobeat are reaping success under the influence of the 90s Dancehall beats.
“Reggaetón, which comes from dancehall, if you listen to Reggaetón which is a billion-dollar industry or genre I should say, they’re still on that dancehall beat. The beat itself, the Reggaeton beat is called ‘Dem Bow’, that comes from Shabba Ranks‘ Dem Bow, and they’re still on that, and it’s a billion dollar genre.”
He continued, “Afrobeat is kind of a spinoff in Africa. I used to go to Africa and played at stadiums, every year. It was just like clockwork-Uganda, Kenya, the Congo..stadiums, out the backs. Most of what was played in Africa at the time as their main music was dancehall. So Afrobeats is kinda from dancehall, and inspired by it, and hip-hop.”
“The beat itself, they’ve taken the dance out of Dancehall. If you listen to the new dancehall now, the style that they’re on, it’s kinda like a trap fusion dancehall,” he said.
“You go to a dancehall party people stand up and they’ll sing these lines, it’s like a sing-along, more so than a dance along. And I think the dance of Dancehall is what was really appealing to people. And if you look at the streaming numbers, the 90s Dancehall is still streaming better than the current Dancehall.”
“So it’s not me knocking the new generation of it, because I collaborate with a lot of these new guys and I like a lot of them. They are the future, but I need to let them understand what the marketplace is.”
The Dancehall megastar says even though he is a Diamond-selling artist, it was when he hooked up with British singer Sting, for their joint 44/876 Reggae album, that he realized that there is another magnitude of global stardom that he is still yet to reach. Shaggy said it was when he and The Police frontman went on their promotional tour for the Grammy-winning album, that he had that epiphany, albeit at the ripe old age of 50.
“For instance you will make a certain amount of money out of Dancehall doing local clubs and you will make a little 25K here, and you buy some cars and what not and I might be on some other level, because I sold Diamond… and then I went with Sting and there is another level to go,” Shaggy explained.
“That opened my eyes. And at this age – I learned this late. And I was like ‘if I had known this earlier’. And Sting was actually open to show me everything. He’s really a guy that jut pushed me and just really – when he was just bigging me up in so many ways and on so many platforms, I was like (in awe). To this day, he is still one of my closest friends…,” the Boombastic artiste added.
The Rae Town native said that he has some discomfiture being the biggest Dancehall act out of Jamaica at age 53, as this can be seen as an indication that the genre is in a state of inertia.
“So I want these guys from my genre to understand how rich the culture is and how much you can make from it. I am saying I am 53 and I have been doing this for so long and I am still the hottest guy on this, something is wrong. I should not be the hottest guy. So they need to step that game up,” he said.
Spice, during the hour-long interview, revealed that Shaggy had served as mediator and mended her relationship with VP Records, which led to the recording of her first album with the label after ten years.
She also weighed in on the issue of levels of stardom, alluding to Shaggy’s view that many local Dancehall acts, were not paying attention to the ‘huge global picture’.
“I don’t think my colleagues in Jamaica and the Dancehall genre get what he is trying to say. So imagine me being likkle likkle Spice… I am not even on a Shaggy level of career as yet, not to mention a Sting,” she said.
“And, if somebody like Shaggy is saying: “oh, I was travelling with Sting and I saw another level’ and I am not at this level and he is seeing Sting’s level, there are people in Jamaica who are not on my level who feel like they are the biggest thing and dem just have dis ego and feel like ‘oh my song is hot in Jamaica’. So they don’t get the level of where our music really can go, and that’s what is kind of hurting our culture,” the Cool It deejay said.
Click on the following link to watch the full interview on The Breakfast Club.