No stranger to the UAE, reggae star Shaggy returns to Dubai this week to perform at Festival City on Thursday. The concert, which is part of DSF 2009, marks the Boombastic hitmaker's third visit to the emirate, his last being 2007's appearance at the Life Music Festival. Emirates Business caught up with the artist in Australia for his only UAE newspaper interview.
You're currently on the Australian leg of your Ragamuffin Tour. How's that going?
So far, so good. There has been a bit of a heat wave so it's pretty hot, and most of these shows take place during the day, meaning I'm on stage at around 5pm. But apart from the weather, everything's good.
After that you'll be jetting over to Dubai for your gig at Festival City?
Yeah, we've got a few days here, and whenever I visit it's no bad experience. I love Dubai – it's one of my favourite cities to visit. The nightlife ain't bad either.
The last time we met you told me you didn't enjoy your last Dubai gig at the Madinat Arena in 2007.
When did I say that?
At the 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards in Munich, Germany.
Did I say what the reason was?
Something about your band.
Oh, that's right. I remember now. It was because my guitarist wasn't there, so it was disappointing in terms of the performance on stage. It would have been cool to have him there. But the crowd was awesome and the overall trip was fun.
So what can we expect from your Dubai gig this time around?
I don't know really, as we don't plan these things. At the moment, here in Australia, the whole crew is constantly making set changes, so yesterday's show was completely different to today's show and so on. It keeps things fresh and we just go with the crowd. It's all about the vibe.
You've released eight studio albums so far. When do you plan to release your next?
Hopefully a new album will be out by the end of this year. The last record was predominantly underground as it was more hardcore reggae, and so it was successful with its core market and the single Church Heathen did really well. This time around, the new album will be focusing on a more pop sound.
How are you finding the music industry at the moment, with the global credit crunch?
The credit crunch has affected everyone and the music industry is no exception. Gone are the days when there were big album sales. I don't think we're going to see that anymore at all. However, concert promoters are doing well in the recession, because it seems that more people want to be entertained. People are choosing to continue going out.
So touring is where the money is?
With touring, it's all good.
You're also busy with a lot of charity work, and you recently raised money to help purchase critical equipment for the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Jamaica. How much was raised?
We raised around $350,000 (Dh1.28 million) thanks to an event we organised called Shaggy and Friends Dare to Care. I'm going to continue with similar ventures and am hoping to raise another $200,000 soon.
During your time in Jamaica you also visited the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library, where you read your new book Shaggy Parrot and the Reggae Band to the children. How did that come about?
One of our singers actually wrote the book and was asked if I wanted to be the lead character – the parrot.
So you didn't write it?
No. You won't be seeing Shaggy the children's author anytime soon.
Are you involved in any other business apart from music?
Just the business associated with music. If an opportunity comes up that's related to my profession, such as endorsements, I don't think there's anything wrong with it providing it is suitable.
Will you be doing the awards circuit to promote your album?
There's more to music than awards, but when people want me to turn up and I can do it, I don't mind. It can be fun.
You've previously been to the World Music Awards. The ceremony recently came under fire in the Middle East after Lebanese singer Assi Al Helani reportedly accused fellow singer Nancy Ajram of "paying money for it". What's your opinion on this?
Wow, that's the first time I have heard of that so I cannot even really comment, because I know nothing about it. But all I can say is that if one artist comes out to diss another artist, it's usually more about jealously than anything else. They should get over it.
PROFILE: Shaggy Singer
Born in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica, Orville Richard Burrell – better known as Shaggy – is a Jamaican-American reggae singer who emerged in 1993 with the hit Oh Carolina. It spent two weeks at the top of the UK charts, and Shaggy's debut album, Pure Pleasure, shortly followed.
The artist continued to conquer the music scene with his next album, 1995's Boombastic. The title track was an inescapable hit, selling more than a million copies, and the album went platinum. Another major record was Hot Shot in 2000, which featured mega hits It Wasn't Me and Angel.
Shaggy's last studio release was 2007's Intoxication, followed by a greatest hits CD last year. The singer has reportedly sold 20 million records so far. The 40-year-old is currently working on his ninth studio album to be released this year.