In the nineties, we were blessed with so many genres of music to choose from such as alternative rock, rhythm & blues, ballads and hip hop. The artist in that era had originality; music had vivid colors and artistic expressions were pure allowing for free will coming from the soul. Artist did not feel they would be judged by people on social media. I was fortunate to hear a plethora of music genres such as smooth jazz, and reggae. As I got older, I dabbled into artists like Grace Jones, Shabba Ranks, and Shaggy just to name a few. In high school, I would often play records like Bob Marley’s Legend album and I also listened to Sca and Dancehall music in college. I learned that sca was Jamaica’s first indigenous urban pop style. I also learned that Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music and its origins date back to the 1970s. Some of Hip Hop’s greatest music expressions came from two turntables and two rappers battling each other in a rap contest.
I believe, if we did not have great artists like Cool Herc, KRS-One and so many others, who were influenced by the dancehall movement, then there probably would not be hip hop today.
Orville “Shaggy” Richard Burell was born on October 22, 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica. He is the son of Clinton Burrell and Lorraine Miller. His mother worked as a medical secretary and there is little known about his father. Shaggy is the only child, growing up Shaggy often dealt with some emotional abuse from his mother. His parents once relocated to Brooklyn, New York City when he was seven years old. In 1987, Shaggy started attending singing classes. A year later, he was discovered together with his friends, as they were singing in the streets of New York City. In 1988, Shaggy joined the United States Marine Corps. He was earned the designation of ‘Military Occupation Specialty’ of 0811 Field Artillery Cannon Crewman. He served with a Field Artillery Battery in the 10th Marine Regiment during the Persian Gulf War. Shaggy had perfected his signature singing voice while serving in the Marine Corps. Shaggy once made his film debut in the action-comedy film titled ‘Blast’ starring in a supporting role. He released his first single in 1993 titled ‘Oh Carolina’; it was a dancehall re-make of a hit by the Folkes Brothers which appeared on the film Sliver. As Shaggy’s career blossomed, he continued to release hit after hit. He also released numerous albums and singles such as ‘It Wasn’t Me’, Boombastic, and my all-time favorite Angel. Shaggy also turned to movie soundtracks to keep his name in the public eye. He once appeared on a hit duet with Janet Jackson, “Luv Me, Luv Me,” from the soundtrack of ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’ in 1998.
Shaggy is happily married to his wife, Rebecca Packer; she is from Dundalk, Ireland and she is half-Irish and half-Jamaican. Rebecca keeps her social life private, but she is an art director of film and videos. Rebecca is also the co-producer of the Shaggy and Friends charity concert. Shaggy has five children, two boys from his first relationship with Carol Johnson and three girls with his wife, Rebecca. His sons are Richard Burrell Jr. and Tyler. Richard is following his father as a musician. His daughters are Sydney and twins called Kelsey and Madison who were born in 2008. Today Shaggy still travels around the world performing in his Shaggy and Friends’ gigs. Shaggy is also working with new artists such as dancehall queen Spice. Her debut album is coming soon, and it is titled ‘Ten’ because it was such a struggle to get her album made, but she is a testament to being a jane of all trades. Spice is on social media, and she has even appeared on the love and hip-hop franchise.
Shaggy is a great artist, father and friend. He was able to follow his dreams and he helped bring Dancehall to the forefront of the mainstream. Shaggy dodged the stereotypes and made his success through his own life experiences and lens. I’m so fortunate to have grown up in an era that was so free of artistic expression. I was able to free my mind in timeless music and hope to one day be able to share all of my favorites with my own children one day.