As a Brooklyn born and bred woman with parents from Guyana and Barbados, I grew up being exposed to and falling in love with Caribbean culture — the vibe, the food, and of course the music.
On Saturdays, my sisters and I hated having to get up at the crack of dawn to clean our East Flatbush home, but we worked reluctantly and twerked joyfully to the sounds that emanated from the radio, which was always tuned to a Caribbean station like WLIB on Saturday mornings. Years later, when I was liberated from my mom’s strict Saturday AM regimen and was out in the world working for wages, I found myself employed in the promotions department of WLIB, one of the very Caribbean stations I had grown up listening to. Eventually, I got to meet and work with Dahved Levy, an internationally renowned radio personality who has brought Caribbean music to the masses in a big way with this trademark catchphrase, “Rockin’ you! Rockin’ you!” I’m dating myself here, but although that was almost 15 years ago, when I heard that the “Original Rude Boy” himself Dahved Levy was going to be co-hosting a show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill with “Mr. Lover Lover” Shaggy, I knew that was a show I wanted to attend.
As Dahved reminded the crowd Tuesday night at B.B. Kings, Shaggy reigned supreme in 2001 with his album Hot Shot — he sold over 10 million albums worldwide (that’s diamond status) and was the top-selling music artist across all genres that year. That same year, Shaggy stole the show and shined bright like a diamond at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special. I actually watched the special recently during one of my Saturday night “couching” sessions and was surprised by how entertaining Shaggy’s performance was. He looked like he was having the time of his life, syncopating his performance with his “bang-bang-bang” groin gestures and animated stage presence. Every smile, every wave of his hand, every sway of his hips shouted “star.” He was singing “It Wasn’t Me” but what was crystal clear was that Shaggy dem knew how to draw in a crowd and put on a performance.
Over a decade later, I knew that Shaggy was still a viable and relevant artist, partly because he was doing big things like headlining the first reggae music show at the Brooklyn hotspot The Barclay Center, appearing on Big Morning Buzz Live, and starting his second record label, Ranch Entertainment. But I wanted to see if he still had “it” — that “it” factor I saw and was taken in by as I watched him on the television performing for the musical elite at the bright beginning of his musical career.
Fast forward to Tuesday night at B.B. Kings, and there were a few things in the air, including excitement. The show started about an hour late, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind — they were quite content imbibing, profiling, and grinding to the tunes put on blast by the onstage deejay, also known in the world of reggae as the selector. I was already two beers in when Shaggy and Dahved took to the stage and greeted the amped up audience.
[Photo: Getty Images]
Speaking of the audience, there were a lot of people there, jam-packed and jamming like they do on Labor Day on the parkway (Eastern Parkway, that is) in celebration of reggae and dancehall music. After big-ups to the individual Caribbean cliques and two mini-sets by new artists off of his new label, Shaggy took to the stage and did his thing. Whereas the energy I picked up from the Michael Jackson performance was that of an artist floating high on the cloud that success brings, an unbridled excitement to show just what he’s got to offer, and a determination to let everyone know they better take notice because he’s just getting started, this Shaggy on the B.B. King stage was a slightly cooler and calmer, more settled in Shaggy. A Shaggy who still looks damn good, and sounds good. A confident man who has done a few things, been a few places, is grateful for his success, and is putting his fans on notice that he’s still here, still doing big things. I was thrilled to see firsthand that his knack for taking hold of the crowd and taking them on a journey with the music that he loves making is still in full effect. I came, I saw, and I spent the next hour settled into my own groove, enjoying a set that included some of my favorite Shaggy tunes — “It Wasn’t Me”, “My Angel” and “Mr. Boombastic” — songs that resonate of an accomplished past and point to a still bright future. Shout outs to Wayne Wonder, Morgan Heritage, and Rayvon, reggae rock stars in their own right who banded together with Shaggy and Dahved to celebrate the genre and the culture. The show was still in full force as I made my post-midnight departure, musical artist worship accomplished.
Shaggy quote of the night: “It’s all in the pelvis. If the spine don’t jerk, nothing else work.”
[Photo: Getty Images]