With a #2 album and #1 single, reggae popster Shaggy is living up to the title of his latest album.
Hotshot’s debut single, “It Wasn’t Me,” will hit #1 on next week’s Billboard Hot 100, while the LP has been nesting in the Billboard 200’s #2 slot for three consecutive weeks.
Released last August, the record didn’t make an immediate impact. But its slow rise up the charts — it has sold over 2.3 million copies to date, according to SoundScan — has the Jamaican-born singer bursting with pride.
“I’m really loving the success that’s happening right now … for the simple fact that there was no hype [around its release],” he said on Monday. “It wasn’t some over-marketed product, [where the label] spends a ton of money trying to do a whole bunch of commercial sh–. This record started at the bottom of the charts and worked its way up to the top.
“It’ll hopefully [take] the top spot, if we get the Beatles out of there,” he continued, referring to the band’s run at #1 with the collection The Beatles 1. “But just to be in the same company as the Beatles is an honor within itself, because them boys is legend. Great songs are great songs, ’cause to this day they’re still giving us a run for the money.”
Shaggy confirmed his participation on the summer leg of the Backstreet Boys’ Black & Blue tour, along with a slate of other pop acts yet to be confirmed. The weed-loving Loverman’s involvement with the primarily teeny-popper lineup may seem out of place, but after the Backstreet Boys opened for Shaggy during the European leg of his 1995 tour in support of his breakthrough album, Boombastic, the dancehall toaster considers himself a lifelong fan of the so-called boy band.
“It’s kinda strange now that it’s kinda flipped,” he said of his opening-act status. “I remember those guys doing malls and all of that.
“They deserve [the success], man,” he continued. “They work their asses off. But I tell you what, them boys, you should just call them shovels, ’cause they kinda paved the way for this whole boy-band phenomenon.”
With that three-month trek on the horizon — his stint with the Backstreet Boys kicks off June 16, Shaggy’s publicist said — the performer won’t be resting on his laurels in the interim. In the next few weeks, he’ll support his album with several promotional engagements, including a February 10 gig during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend and a “Saturday Night Live” performance on February 17. Then it’s off to Europe, where “It Wasn’t Me” also is blowing up, for more of the same.
While “It Wasn’t Me” continues its reign on radio, Shaggy has chosen “Angel” as the album’s second single. Built around samples of the ’60s pop hit “Angel of the Morning” (most notably covered by Juice Newton in the early ’80s) and the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” the song toasts ladies who stand by their men no matter what. A video is scheduled to begin filming next week.
“We started with the beat,” Shaggy said of the song’s creation, then hummed a few bars of Miller’s familiar guitar riff. “I’m sorry, Steve, but that’s reggae right there. When we mixed that with a fat bassline, the vibe was so hot that I started to think of something more of an international vibe, like [The Fugees’ version of] ’Killing Me Softly,’ or something like that. Then [Hotshot collaborator] RikRok walked into the studio singing ’Angel of the Morning,’ and it just clicked.”
On Monday, Shaggy returned the favor to Ricardo “Rikrok” Ducent by collaborating with him on his debut solo album, which will eventually be released by Shaggy’s Big Yard imprint/recording collective.
After serving with the U.S. Marines in the Gulf War, Shaggy (born Orville Richard Burrell) released his debut album, 1993’s Pure Pleasure, which spawned the huge U.K. single “Oh Carolina.” In 1995, he broke through in the U.S. market with the hit “Boombastic” and the platinum LP of the same name, which earned him a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Reggae Album. His 1997 follow-up, Midnite Lover, was considered a commercial disappointment, and he was subsequently dropped from Virgin Records’ roster.
Renewed interest came with 1998’s “Luv Me, Luv Me,” featuring backing vocals by Janet Jackson, which appeared on the “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” soundtrack. The song now appears on Hotshot, although legal red tape prevented Jackson’s vocals from making the album cut.