Yet nothing could be further from the truth for Jamaican-born, American reggae-fusion singer Shaggy, who’s proven he’s still got star power more than 20 years after making it big in the music industry.
Best known for hits ‘Oh Carolina’, ‘Boombastic’, ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and ‘Angel’, the Grammy Award-winning singer continues to win hearts with his catchy, upbeat tunes and is still hugely popular around the world, appearing as the headline act for festivals some two decades after his first hit.
Born Orville Richard Burrell in the Jamaican capital Kingston, the 48-year-old songman has successfully carved his name into Jamaican music history, sharing similar success to that of reggae greats Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, with his catchy pop-reggae tunes and distinctive voice.
The father of five is well respected within the pop music industry, having collaborated over the years with huge names such as Janet Jackson, Maxi Priest, Charlie Wilson and Joe and has passed his love of music on to his son and rapper, Robb Banks.
Shaggy has also proven himself quite the humanitarian, offering his services and support to a number of different charities and initiatives. Despite his successes, however, it hasn’t always been easy for the singer, who admitted in a recent Noisey interview earlier this year that there had been a lot of doubts surrounding his music at the time of his first hit, ‘Oh Carolina’. “There was nothing on the radio that sounded like it,” Shaggy explains.
“We were in a Britney Spears and N*SYNC kind of world at the time and I decided to just do Shaggy. I’ve always gone against the grain of things.”
With all of his musical achievements, it would be fair to assume that music was all that Shaggy has ever lived. Yet there’s a lot more to the man behind the music icon who has taken on many different roles throughout his life, including a stint in the US Marine Corps. Falling in with the wrong crowd in his younger years, Shaggy decided to ditch that scene and in 1989 enrolled in the US Marine Corps.
Shaggy came to understand and appreciate just how hard it really was and told Hot 93.1 how his military service in fact helped prepare him for his singing career. “Being in the Marines actually helped me take on this job, because this is the hardest job in the world,” Shaggy said.
“For me to get up here in the morning – I have done a radio station before this, and I am here now — and to continue on for the rest of the day, that discipline came from being in the Marines,” he said.
“I think the discipline is what you need more than being successful as you see a lot of artists who might not be the most talented, but the fact that their work ethic is so good, they end up making it.
Shaggy has continued to show support for the US Marine Corps with his work with the United Services Organisation (USO) where he regularly performs for deployed service men and women abroad.
Shaggy’s latest single released earlier this year, ‘That Love’, is a catchy pop tune which goes back to his dancehall roots and where his lyrics talk about the lives of the service men and women working overseas missing their loved ones.
In addition to his work and support of the US Marine Corps, Shaggy also set-up his own charity, the Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation, which came about after an experience 15 years ago at the Bustamante Hospital for Children while visiting a friend’s son who had been admitted there.
“This visit changed my view and knowledge of the great needs at the hospital and the challenging obstacles children faced with receiving medical care in Jamaica and the region,” explains Shaggy on his website.
“Over the years, along with friends in Jamaica and across the world, we have had personal donations of medical equipment, including, but not limited to, ventilators, electroencephalogram machine, table top sterilising machine, upgrade of the medical oxygen system, funding of the beautification of the administrative block and creation of a kiddies park and recreation area,” he says.
“As someone who lives in Jamaica and in the United States, I recognise that we have global reach with our music, culture and our voice and am eternally grateful to all here in Jamaica and in our diaspora who work tirelessly to make Jamaica a better place for our kids to grow and be healthy.”
The Foundation has raised US $1,600,000 and has purchased more than 450 pieces of essential, life-saving equipment for the the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
As if that wasn’t enough, Shaggy continues to perform almost all-year round both at home and around the world and has locked in another headline tour here in Australia where he will return for a second time as part of the hugely popular Raggamuffin All Stars festival.
Shaggy’s first Raggamuffin appearance was back in 2010 where he featured alongside Lauryn Hill, Julian Marley (son of Bob Marley) Sean Kingston, Steel Pulse and Katchafire. The latest instalment of the reggae festival, the Raggamuffin All Stars, will feature Shaggy as well as New Zealand’s Six60 and House Of Shem, Jamaica’s The Wailers and Julian Marley, as well as reggae royalty, Morgan Heritage.
Catch Shaggy and the rest of the Raggamuffin All Stars at Margaret Court Arena (Melbourne) 19 February and Hordern Pavilion (Sydney) 21 February.