Album review: Sly & Robbie Present Shaggy & Friends – Out Of Many, One Music
Sly & Robbie Present Shaggy & Friends – Out Of Many, One Music (Ranch Entertainment)
In 2011 international reggae pop star Shaggy split from his long time manager Robert Livingston and also cut ties with their joint venture Big Yard Entertainment. He formed his own company Ranch Entertainment, which released his Summer In Kingston album in the Summer of 2011 and various singles and riddims including Kingston 13 and Calabash. Now Ranch Entertainment has released the brand new album Out Of Many, One Music.
Out Of Many, One Music is not a new Shaggy album, but it’s a collaboration between Shaggy and legendary Jamaican riddim duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. The album’s title refers to Jamaica’s motto: Out of Many, One People. Because of his pop chart and crossover success, Shaggy has often been criticized for not being authentic, so he has decided to do a full reggae album with Sly & Robbie and some of the biggest artists in the reggae genre today. The production team for this album also includes Shaggy’s long time producer Shaun ‘Sting International’ Pizzonia, responsible for most of Shaggy’s hits, and keyboard wizard Steven ‘Lenky’ Marsden, probably best known for his Diwali riddim with worldwide pop hits by Sean Paul (Get Busy) and Wayne Wonder (No Letting Go).
The first single, Fight This Feeling featuring lovers rock icon Beres Hammond on the same riddim as Dennis Brown’s Sitting And Watching, is already a big hit in the dancehalls worldwide and has also been featured on this year’s instalment of the popular compilation series Reggae Gold on VP Records. The track happened to be so popular that Ranch Entertainment recently released a juggling on the riddim featuring further cuts by Maxi Priest & Assassin, Tessanne Chin, Jimmy Cozier & Red Fox and new female singer Samira. The album’s second single, You Girl with r&b pop star Ne-Yo has only been released a few weeks ago and has already been getting a lot of airplay all over the world.
With two extremely strong singles, the album’s expectations are high. The vibe of this album was inspired by Sly & Robbie’s hard hitting drum and bass tracks for roots reggae group Black Uhuru in the early ‘80s. Shaggy and his team made no compromises on this album, as every of the album’s thirteen tracks has this real authentic Jamaican sound to it, in most cases heavy and rootsy. Besides the two singles, none of the other tracks have been released before.
Today’s reggae sound can be heard on All We Need Is Love with dancehall favourite Konshens and r&b singer Jimmy Cozier. Contemporary reggae star Tarrus Riley provides vocals on My Duty over a hardcore steppers style riddim with a haunting hornline. Morgan Heritage leadsinger Peetah Morgan combines forces with Ranch Entertainment artist Tessanne Chin on Deadly Love, set to a modern roots riddim coming out of Sly’s drummachine. Reggae’s shooting star Chronixx is present on Bridges, on which he and Shaggy warn to be careful to burn your bridges. Like Never Before takes you straight back to the early ‘80s when rub-a-dub used to rule as reggae veteran Cocoa Tea and r&b singer Joe add their sweet and smooth vocals to a new version of the Tune In riddim as originated by the cool ruler Gregory Isaacs. Samira is featured on the cover of The Everly Brothers’ evergreen Till I Kissed You, which was originally done in reggae by Jimmy London in the early ‘70s. With the ska grooves of If U Slip U Slide (You Could Be Mine) with Melissa and Crazy featuring Marley sibling Jr. Gong and Chioma, Shaggy and Sly & Robbie even introduce the energetic vibes of the early days of Jamaican popular music. The remaining tracks Money & Friends, Trouble Under Your Roof and Scheming are all three solo cuts by Shaggy on those distinctive Sly & Robbie patterns.
Out Of Many, One Music definitely lives up to the high expectations set by the first two singles. Shaggy proved his critics he is able to deliver an authentic reggae album and together with Sly & Robbie he managed to present a variety of different styles without repeating themselves all the while or without getting too mainstream. The selection of the guest artists is excellent, a good mix of established names and young, talented artists who definitely will get a major boost through this project. Also, both Ne-Yo and Joe show they can handle a reggae riddim pretty well, so hopefully this won’t be the first and last time we hear them on a reggae album.
The album is available as a digital release only for now.
- If U Slip U Slide (You Could Be Mine) (feat. Melissa)
- Till I Kissed Ya (feat. Samira)
- Like Never Before (feat. Cocoa Tea & Joe)
- Fight This Feeling (feat. Beres Hammond)
- All We Need Is Love (feat. Konshens & Jimmy Cozier)
- Money & Friends
- You Girl (feat. Ne-Yo)
- Deadly Love (feat. Peetah Morgan & Tessanne Chin)
- My Duty (feat. Tarrus Riley)
- Crazy (feat. Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley & Chioma)
- Bridges (feat. Chronixx)
- Trouble Under Your Roof
By Danny Pepperseed