“It’s nice to be nominated… But it’s better to win!”
Dancehall reggae hitmaker Shaggy was honored twice at the 61st Grammy Awards, held yesterday in Los Angeles. Honor #1: The seven-time Grammy nominee was tapped to host the Grammy Premiere Ceremony, the day’s first round of award presentations, which was live-streamed from the Microsoft Theater, directly across the street from the Staples Center where the televised portion of the Grammy Awards took place. Honor #2: Shaggy’s collaborative project with Sting, 44/876, won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album. It was Shaggy’s second career win (his Boombastic album won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 1995) and Sting’s 16th. “They always say about the Grammys that it’s nice to be nominated,” Shaggy said while accepting the award. “I’m telling you right now, it’s better to win!” Interview After The Jump…
If the artist’s remarks seem somewhat less than gracious, it would be wrong to assume they were some sort of shot at his fellow nominees, Black Uhuru, Etana, Protoje, and Ziggy Marley. Truth be told, this was a moment of sweet vindication for the Jamaica-born, New York-based artist who has endured a fair amount of “badmind” over the years despite (or perhaps because of) being the first dancehall artist ever to top the pop charts.
During an in-depth interview with Billboard, published over the weekend, Shaggy opened up about his true feelings. Check this pungent excerpt from Reshma B’s revelatory reasoning with the certified-diamond artist:
SHAGGY: I don’t know if you noticed this: I’m conveniently dancehall. You know, when dancehall is getting a raw deal of being the music of violence, they’re like, “No we’re not — Look at Shaggy!” [Laughs.] And whenever it’s time to win a Grammy or an award, it’s like, “Bwoy, how come Shaggy nominated? Him is not dancehall!”
I wanted to prove people wrong, so for a while I left pop music totally and went back to dancehall. The label dropped me because they said I wasn’t cooperating. So I went on my own label, Ranch Records, and I did “Church Heathen,” which was 19 weeks at No 1.
I put out the Intoxxication album, which was another massive hit. But I noticed I wasn’t doing any of the reggae festivals in Europe. My agent was like, “Well, the promoters are saying that you’re not reggae enough. You’re not Jamaican enough.”
Oh yeah, you wouldn’t believe these conversations that they are having. I’ve been getting a fight since day one. I’ve been reinventing myself for years, and it’s all calculated. I sit down and think, “OK, how do I beat them now?” And I come up with these crazy ideas.
Why is that so important to you?
Because it’s a crab-in-the-barrel mentality. When you’re winning, they’re not gonna want to see you win again. This is going back as far as Bob Marley. You got to remember, nobody played him in Jamaica. Bob Marley’s popularity was after his death. They called him “the sellout guy,” because he was doing “white people reggae,” according to them. And now the hybrid music that they criticized him for has become the staple of what reggae music is. History is just repeating itself.
How does it make you feel, when people talk that way about you?
It motivates me, because it makes me feel special in a sense. How is it that a 50-year-old artist somehow has the top-selling album, the top-grossing tour, and more streams than any of these guys? Understand how motivating that is! They can’t get me out!
There’s no way me at 50 years old should still be the guy to beat. I set the bar. My numbers are still the numbers to beat. I am leading them in streaming by huge numbers. I could easily go and do their dancehall game, but it does nothing for my pocket. It just does things for my ego. And even when I win, they still don’t give me that. So as an artist, I got lost. I got caught up in trying to prove myself to people.
Until it dawned on me: “Why am I still trying to prove myself to these people?” That was a wake up call. And so I went back to doing what I do. I made “I Need Your Love,” and got another big hit. I told myself, “I’m not going to watch any trends. I’m just doing Shaggy.”
Nothing wrong with keeping it 100!
Big up the original Doberman along with his longtime production partner Sting International and his partner in crime Ill Wayno. By the way, Shaggy’s 12th studio album, Wah Gwaan is coming This May. Stay Up!
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