On Saturday, May 30 at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream the iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, featuring Shaggy, Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, David Guetta, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, and Echosmith. Tune in HERE to watch!
Reggae superstar Shaggy is no stranger to hit records. The artist, who plays the iHeartRadio Pool Party this Saturday, has several successful songs to his credit over his 20-year career, like “In the Summertime,” “Boombastic,” “It Wasn’t Me,” and “Angel."
Although his latest record, "I Need Your Love,” hasn’t hit the top 40 yet, it has received a strong reaction globally and currently has more than 38 million plays on YouTube. He’s happy to be experiencing such longevity.
“Just to be involved in the iHeartRadio Pool Party is a pretty big deal,” Shaggy tells Yahoo Music during a recent on-camera interview. “The track ‘I Need Your Love’ is doing so amazing for us to allow us this opportunity. The greatest thing about it is we made these records that are really big records and they stand the test of time.”
Shaggy’s trusted winning approach involves going with his gut instinct. He considers the 38 million-plus YouTube plays for “I Need Your Love,” for instance, as the result of his hard work and willingness to take risks. “My career has taken so many directions,” he says. “My record company shutting down after Hot Shot and me falling apart with my management and going underground and doing reggae dancehall and being successful there, and then trying to come back to the mainstream, wasn’t easy. The mainstream is very fickle. If you’re hot, they’ll mess with you. If you’re not, it’s out of there.”
Despite how difficult it can be to create a mainstream hit, Shaggy likes to take chances by working with new artists. “I’ve never been one that really won with major-name collaborators,” he says. “You take, for instance, 'Angel’ with Rayvon. 'It Wasn’t Me’ was with Rikrok. Nobody knew who those guys were. Now, we’re back again with Mohombi and Faydee. They’re not really massive, massive names. They just really add something special to the track. I think that’s kinda what we just go off of, the ear. This is something magical, and kinda go against the grain.”
Shaggy doesn’t only go against the grain when it comes to his own career. He has been known to encourage other artists to do the same. It was his idea for fellow Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin to audition for Season 5 of the NBC singing competition The Voice that she ultimately won. “Tessanne has been an amazing singer that’s been in Jamaica and she had, like, no really major hit, but the whole Jamaica knew that she was just an incredible singer,” he says. “She just needed something to spark it.” When working with Tessanne, he asked her if she would consider going on the show. When she said yes, he helped secure her an audition. Shaggy says the competition was initially only open to U.S. citizens, but the producers were so impressed with Tessanne that they changed the rules. “She’s this Chinese girl and she opens her mouth and she’s talking straight patois. It was so dynamic for them. It was great TV.”
Shaggy has more reason to celebrate this summer. In July, his song “Boombastic” will mark its 20th anniversary. Shaggy has no qualms about giving Marvin Gaye his credit for helping take the song to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1995. He says it was a sample of Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” that helped “Boombastic” connect with radio audiences.
According to Shaggy, the pre-Gaye sample version didn’t immediately win over executives at Virgin Records. “You got to understand when you go into a record company and give them a something that doesn’t sound like what’s on the radio, it’s hard to sell it,” he says. “That song was a B-side of 'In the Summertime,’ which was a safer record. They called it a double A-side to make me feel better.”
Though the first version on “Boombastic” was doing fine in the clubs, Shaggy says Virgin’s VP of A&R, Gemma Corfield, suggested that the song get a remix. Shaggy and his producer Sting International considered using two different samples, and he picked “Let’s Get It On.” “I asked him to do that one and it just kinda fit,” Shaggy recalls.
Shaggy has good reason to trust his instincts. He’s usually right.