“It Wasn’t Me In Them Apple Bottom Jeans”: Reggae Star Shaggy Talks Upcoming Free Concert in Orlando With Flo Rida
Healthcare workers and first responders can get low in their apple bottom jeans or claim ‘it wasn’t me’ at a free concert featuring Flo Rida and Shaggy this Saturday in Orlando. WMFE’s Talia Blake caught up with Reggae Superstar Shaggy ahead of the show to talk about the event and his work on the long-awaited album release of The Queen of Dancehall, Spice.
Below is an edited transcript of the conversation:
Talia Blake: Shaggy, you and Flo Rida are tea ming up with Orlando attorney Dan Newlin for a free concert at the Hard Rock on July 17. After more than a year of economic woes, why give a free concert?
Shaggy: I have to give all the credit to Dan Newlin. I’ve known Dan for a couple of years now and we’ve done some work with him in doing concerts for his law firm and stuff like that. So, he came up with the idea and I automatically thought it was great because it’s the frontline workers, and it’s such a good cause and made sense. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ Then he spoke to Flo and we’re like, ‘okay, let’s make it happen.’ And I think what really got me was when they actually put it up and started promote it, and how overwhelming the response was. I was like ‘wow,’ because we had, I think it’s a really small place, like a 6,000 capacity place. And it was like 30,000 people trying to get into this place. I was like, well, this is this is crazy. The frontline workers have been our heroes throughout these past two years, and I think they’ve suffered tremendously. It must be such a stressful job to be having that amount of flow of people coming in to them. This is just an opportunity for them to let their hair down and just blow some steam off. And this is for us to say thank you.
Blake: Some people might think, “Shaggy and Flo Rida, how does that musical pairing work? One’s rap and the other is reggae.” But you’ve been known to have some interesting collabs. In 2019, you did a Tiny Desk Concert with Sting. What was it like working with him and how did the two of you get together?
Shaggy: Sting and I are buddies. He’s my very close friend, one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, (and) one of the best musical experience I’ve ever had in my life. And if I may, I’ll go as far as say probably the best musical experience I’ve ever had in my life as far as the best tour, the best time I ever had, the best airing. Zero ego, just a beautiful situation. And you know you’re right, I have because I’m reggae and everything to me starts from reggae. It’s easy for me to pair with any genre because everything starts from breaking. A lot of people might not want to admit that but if you look at just every genre that there is, it comes out of reggae and dancehall. Reggae music and the culture of Jamaica is a soul. Some time with reggae music you just don’t just hear it, but you feel it. And that’s what every other music gets from it.
Blake: You’ve been making music since the 90’s with songs like Boombastic, or my favorite Angel, and you’re still dropping gems as you’re featured on one of the hottest dancehall songs out right now, Go Down Deh by Spice featuring you and Shaggy. How do you keep the creative juices flowing?
Shaggy: I try to keep my finger on the pulse. I’m surrounded by a lot of young people. I have an ability to spot talent. My biggest gift for me is, I have two really great gifts in music that I was blessed with, one was my voice and the other one was my ear. I don’t play music as far as instruments, but I could hear it. I could hear when something goes wrong, I could hear when something’s off, and I could figure out how to fix it if I have really capable people around me. And I surround myself with really good musicians. I keep myself with young musicians and young artists around me because they are the voice of the streets. I can’t tell you that I’m in the streets anymore. I’m just not. But, I’m surrounded by people that’s in the streets. So when it’s time for me, I’ll know the new slang and the new vibe by just dealing with them. Kind of realizing what it is. But then I use my experience of 30 years of how I know songwriting because songwriting is a craft, but it’s the feel that you put behind it that makes it now, that makes it whosoever that artists is. I could sit down and like with Spice I knew what I wanted to do with her when I was doing her album. I knew what I wanted to do with a single and how she would sound and where I wanted.
Blake: And this is a long awaited album from her right?
Shaggy: Yeah, 10 years. The album is entitled 10. It comes out on the 30th of this month. My life has been consumed with it for probably the last year, about two years, but mostly last year. On the 30th I get to move on to something else. Not saying that it’s a bad thing, but I’ve just been consumed with (it). I’ve been living in Spice-world for a while so.
Blake: So speaking of being able to move on, what can we expect next from Shaggy?
Shaggy: I started working on a hip-hop/reggae album. A lot of reggae, people don’t know that dancehall, in particular, a lot of dancehall that became big and huge started from the remix, the hip hop remix. Tour by Davidson, Ghetto Red Hot by Super Cat, Slow And Sexy by Shabba Ranks, House Call — all of these records that were big records that really crossed over in the early 90s were remix records, hip-hop remixes. And hip-hop comes from dancehall and reggae. So, I just feel it’s almost a celebration of the craft, of the art form.
Blake: And I know you said you were over capacity for registrations for this concert. So, will there be more concerts in the future?
Shaggy: Dan and I spoke about doing a second one because the numbers were staggering with the amount of people that wanted to go. So, we’re probably going to do one in September again. I think people should just stand by for details. All the people who’ve been hitting me in my DM really saying that they couldn’t get in because it was sold out. You know, standby. We’re coming in with another one again, and we might switch the lineup a little bit or probably add. We realized that everybody would, that the 30,000 people or more that actually wanted to come to this one, to want to go out and see Flo Rida and Shaggy. To do it again, we’re probably going to add somebody else to it. So, we’re still talking about that. Big up to Dan. He’s such a mastermind. He’s a brilliant guy and a guy with a big heart.
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