Shaggy dominated the Hot 100 with "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel" and spent six weeks atop of the Billboard 200 with "Hot Shot" (MCA Records), his eclectic sound melding an array of influences. The title of Shaggy's latest album, "Out of Many, One Music," digitally released on September 24th on Shaggy's Ranch Entertainment label, transforms Jamaica's national motto, 'Out of Many, One People,' into an apt summation of his sonic recipe. Yet, "Out of Many, One Music", recorded primarily at Shaggy's Long Island studio, with production helmed by legendary Jamaican drum and bass duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, is the first exclusively one-drop reggae release of the artist's celebrated 25-year recording career.
Returning to his reggae roots after two decades of mainstream success, Shaggy launched "Out of Many, One Music" on September 29th at Jamaica's longest-running weekly dancehall session, Rae Town. The free event, held Sunday nights, began 32 years ago in front of the Capricorn Inn on Rae St., where it is still held. Area vendors do brisk business selling jerk chicken, roasted fish, Red Stripe beer -- even stalks of marijuana can be purchased -- all of which generates significant revenue in an otherwise economically depressed community, located east of downtown Kingston. Shaggy, born Orville Burrell in Rae Town, lived there until he was 6 years old, then in various tenements throughout Kingston prior to his migration to Flatbush, Brooklyn at age 18. While in the Marines and stationed at North Carolina's Camp LeJeune, Shaggy regularly commuted to Brooklyn on weekends where he refined his toasting skills working with various Jamaican sound systems, notably Gibraltar Musik, eventually crafting an inimitable pop-dancehall pastiche that has made him Jamaica's best-selling living artist.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s in Jamaica, the proliferation of sound systems, originally consisting of speakers, turntables, amplifiers and records chosen for play by a selector, and the selector's search for exclusive singles to attract larger crowds to their dances (and to trump their competition), led to the creation of the island's recording industry. "Shaggy took his launch [of 'Out of Many, One Music'] to where reggae came from: The sound system. Shaggy is the first artist to launch an album here, which has made the Rae Town dance more popular," observes Senor Daley, owner and selector with Klassique Disco, Rae Town's resident sound system, which specializes in oldies; from classic country and R&B to vintage reggae and dancehall. All are embraced by the Rae Town crowd, which Daley estimates at 700 each Sunday night.
Despite a forecast guaranteeing rain, approximately 1,500 patrons turned out for Shaggy's album launch, where he performed alongside several Jamaican collaborators featured on the album, including contemporary roots singer Tarrus Riley, dancehall star Konshens and "The Voice" contestant Tessanne Chin, whose dynamic audition on the September 24th segment of the popular NBC show had all four judges vying to coach her.