February 14, 2002

Shabby Shaggy

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Does anyone actually own a Shaggy album? Sure, we all loved “It Wasn’t Me,” and “Angel” did have a pretty catchy beat. Hotshot was even one of the best-selling albums of 2001, outselling, in a moment not to be forgotten – EVER – N’Sync. Still, who really buys a Shaggy album? Apparently around 6 million people. So maybe they can explain the inspiration behind Shaggy’s latest release, Hotshot Ultramix. Shaggy’s latest album is a fusion of remixes off of Hotshot and, lest any fan despair, three previously unreleased songs were thrown on there as well. I believe they were dug out of the trash can in which they were thrown after record executives decided they were complete CRAP. Ultramix does however feature the DJ’ing talents of Punch, Sting International, Gordon Dukes and Ricardo ‘Rik Rok’ Ducent. Shaggy had little to do with the mixes which might explain his “It wasn’t me” response if questioned about its release.

“It Wasn’t Me” does have the marked honor, though, of appearing on the album twice, because clearly it did not get enough airtime the first time around. First mixed by Punch and then by Ricardo Ducent, both remixes lack the infectious irony that made the kinky beat of the song so lovable the first time. We even get some added Eminem style lyrics in the second mix where a thug voice tells us “why Brittany and Christina didn’t speak at the awards” and what can only be wishful thinking — “the next thing you know Destiny’s Child split up.” Worse still, an annoyingly thumping bass and cell phone style beeps are interspersed throughout the song, completely overshadowing the original lyrics. “Freaky Girl” and “Hope” suffer from the same overkill, the overbeat of the remixes ruining the essence of Shaggy from both songs. “Leave It To Me” and “Keep’n It Real,” however, still retain the Shaggy mark, resorting to old-style Shaggy smoothness in trying to reinvent the cocky trademark reggae. The remixing skills of Sting International, Robert Livingston, and Gordon Dukes can be attributed for this perfect mix of new funkiness and old school charm.

Shaggy’s new singles (save for “Why You Mad At Me?”), on the other hand, are disappointingly blah. In “Too Hot To Handle” a panting, questionably sexy female voice gives us the essence of what its like to be both hot and rich. “You wonder why they gave me credit cards/ ’cause it lets me buy some fancy cars … But that’s a mystery you will never know …” I think that about explains it. “Why You Mad At Me?,” another new track, similarly features the sporadic exclamations of what can only be assumed to be one of Shaggy’s ho’s while Shaggy himself touchingly tells us he “ain’t no Casanova.” Despite this, the song works, oddly enough, on the obnoxiousness of both the tune and the lyrics. A welcome change in the Backstreet Boy era of simpering love ballads, Shaggy rants on about the mistake a girl can make by making up her mind too quickly.

By far the best part of the entire album is a live, unmixed version of “Angel,” with sampled lyrics from Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” Mercifully untouched, it is pure, unadulterated Shaggy at his best. In the end, perhaps the record executives should have realized that sometimes too much of anything, even a good thing, can be, well … a waste of money.

Archived article by Tara Kilachand