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Dancehall legend Shaggy reflects on his 2001 music takeover

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Shaggy took over the late 90s with his Grammy-winning sophomore album, Boombastic. He followed that up in 2001 with his single, “It Wasn’t Me,” which received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. 

After almost thirty years of mainstream and pop success, Shaggy hopes the new generation of dancehall and reggae artists will pass on the torch.

“If you look at the history of it, from reggaéton, hip-hop and Afrobeat, — all of that came from dancehall,” Shaggy tells BillboardJustin Bieber, Rihanna, Drake, all these people are tapping into it. What about us? It’s a wide-open field now, so you don’t have the gatekeepers I used to have in my time. There’s no reason you’re not taking the reins. It just takes work. And a lot of people don’t want to do put that work in.”

Back in the day, says Shaggy, “I had to make records 10 times better and work 10 times harder than the average artist, because it was just not a level playing field.”

“We came in as the underdogs,” Shaggy goes on. “We were from this little island with music that people don’t understand. There’s no program director at a radio station who is going to be like, ‘Let’s play the reggae record.”

“So that’s why the samples were so important because they had the elements of that crossover thing to make them say, ‘Okay, maybe it could work because they sampled Juice Newton,” Shaggy adds, referencing his other 2001 classic, “Angel,” which interpolates Newton’s 1981 cover of “Angel of the Morning.”

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