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Shaggy - Hotshot Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 August 2000
Hot Shot
MCA Records, 2000
| Performance 7.5 | Sound 7 |

ImageWhen we got this album and popped it in the CD player at the office, some of the other employees here were yelling about how bad it was. The album was ultimately pulled from the CD player and tossed across the room in disgust by an unnamed staffer at (ok, it was Jerry) It was a weird, crazy day when Van Halen, Prince and Ween were the only CDs that were allowed to be played, so I can understand what caused the Shaggy backlash. I’m here to tell you that this album is not as bad as you might think after reading the first two sentences of this review.

Listening to the Shaggy CD is a guilty pleasure, not because the songs are amazing, but because Shaggy is the pimp that most people could only dream of being. Not quite the pimp that Ice-T is, but still a pimp nonetheless. With tracks such as "Freaky Girl," "Lonely Lover" and "Hey Love," Shaggy wants the world never to forget that he’s a true ladies’ man. The lyrics never get to get too X-rated, but he’s not afraid to ask the ladies some pretty graphic questions in his songs.

Shaggy’s tune "Boombastic" was the song that brought him into the spotlight with his unique nasally voice and a sound that was a blend of reggae, disco and dance music. America went through a brief Shaggy phase, culminating with Beavis and Butthead’s stamp of approval of "Boombastic" when Butthead said, "When you’re scoring with a chick, you say, ‘This is boombastic, fantastic.’ "

Born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica, Shaggy moved to the tough streets of Brooklyn to live with his mother when he was 18. Shaggy soon joined the Marines and, before he knew it, ended up on the front lines of Operation Desert Storm. Strangely enough, these experiences rarely show up in his songwriting, as Shaggy tends to focus on the lighter side of life.

The Shaggy formula is to start every song with a funky groove. Then during the first 10 to 20 seconds of every song, Shaggy and a bevy of back-up singers have to say things such as "a-lover lover," "I’m the original Mr. lover lover" and "It’s the year 2000, this is the original Mr. lover lover Shaggy." Okay, we get it, Shaggy, you are the original Mr. Lover Lover, nobody is disputing that. This formula gets a little tired, due to the fact that virtually every song starts like this, but it’s the Shaggy sound and he’s sticking to it. Once you accept this fact and don’t take the album too seriously, what you have is a fun, oversexed ride with some good dance music and Shaggy’s unique voice. Superproducers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were brought in to ensure that the album would move and groove properly.

"Dance & Shout" uses a sample of the Jackson’s "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)," with new lyrics and melody, but the same energy as the original. I haven’t heard too many Michael Jackson cover songs and Shaggy’s version is more an interpretation than an actual cover.

Michael isn’t the only Jackson family member that has a home on Hot Shot. The Janet Jackson/Shaggy duet "Luv Me, Luv Me" that appeared on the ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’ soundtrack is included here and is one of the best songs on the album. It was a minor hit when the film came out and is a welcome addition to Hot Shot. Granted, it is simply repackaging an existing song and might be construed as filler, but the song is good enough to avoid disappointing people people who buy this album.

On a few tracks, Shaggy abandons the blatant sexual overtones and tells the sentimental tale of growing up in a poor neighborhood. In an ode to his mother on the song "Hope," Shaggy thanks her for being there for him and being so supportive of his career. It’s a little sappy and over the top, but it’s a solid pop song with a nice groove that gives the tune a longer shelf life that most in this genre. This song is also available on the soundtrack of the Kevin Costner baseball film ‘For Love of the Game.’

The album hits its cheesiest moment with the song "Angel," which is a cover of Juice Newton’s biggest hit "Angel of the Morning," sung over a sample of Steve Miller’s "The Joker." Shaggy doesn’t play the sampling game as well as Wycleff Jean, and "Angel" is one of those songs that you’re embarrassed to admit you like but is so catchy that you’ll find it stuck in your head for days.

Shaggy’s music isn’t going to satisfy the hardcore reggae fan, nor the devoted drum and bass music aficianado. He falls right in between these two extremes. His unique voice and easily digestible blend of styles will appeal to you if you like upbeat party records. Just don’t let your friends know how much you like the song "Angel."

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