Shaggy gives lesson on language
Grammy Award-winning dancehall and reggae artiste Orville 'Shaggy' has urged Jamaican musicians to think carefully about the image they portray, particularly their use of language, in the international arena.
The It Wasn't Me hitmaker, speaking Thursday night on 'Lets Connect with Ambassador Marks', a monthly chat series hosted on social media by Audrey Marks, Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, shared an eye-opening experience that showed him the importance of language.
"When I went on tour with Maxi Priest in 1992, he took me to Brazil ... Me as the little youth dem time deh in the background, and they asked him a question, and he said 'Shaggy, you answer that.' Me start seh 'Well yuh want see seh everything kinda good inna the baseline and me deh yah a hold a vibe.' He was there saying 'English, English'," Shaggy said.
He said that he later enquired of Maxi Priest about his insistence that he spoke English. It was then that he was made to understand that an interview on MTV is a rare opportunity that could enable him to connect with a wider audience.
"Why wouldn't you talk in way that people can understand you?" he said Maxi Priest asked. "And then it all made sense," he added.
Shaggy added that in marketing music on the international platform, listeners have to be able to understand what you are saying.
"I implore everybody, every artiste, to emulate people before you who are better at it, and figure ways you are to get around it. It's cool to have a little bit of the swag a gwane, but if you take it too far, how you going to reach them. You need to have a balance."
He said that it is also important for persons who want to reach the top to pay attention to the persons who are dominating the business. For Shaggy, the top 10 persons on the Top 100 charts are his competition. He said that high-flying artistes, like the late Michael Jackson, operate likewise.
"I was in a room with him and It Wasn't Me was his favourite. He started asking me where I wrote it, and this guy was reading my credits. Then he asked me about another song called Keeping it Real. I was trying to learn about this guy, The King of Pop, and I couldn't get a word in because he wanted to know so much about me. This is a person where, at that time, I was the hottest thing in the world, and as big as he is, he's like 'I want to know all about this guy because he is now my competition,'" Shaggy said.