1995, Music

Boombastic (1995) by Shaggy

I remember the title track a bit but not well enough to remember the whole thing. (And I’m still wondering if a remix was bigger in Canada because, honestly, it doesn’t sound that familiar with me.) But otherwise, I had no idea what I was in for. And I sort of dreaded this.

Well the first thing I can say is that this is a very catchy album. Some of that (a lot of it?) comes from the interpolations, of course, but there’s no shortage of hooks on this record. And, the older I get, the more I appreciate that hooks are difficult. There are plenty of albums that are this long which really lack catchy material. This is not one of them.

The lyrics are very typical for the romantic side of reggae – lots and lost of stuff about sex and romance. (And occasionally stuff that isn’t about that but it’s pretty rare.) People don’t listen to reggae for the lyrics, normally.

The surprising thing for me is how relatively diverse it is. Especially when there are featured singers there is some variation in the sound and, even when there is no guess, not every song is built with the same elements. Frankly, I was expecting 14 songs that were pretty damn similar and that’s not what I got.  This is not a genre known for its diversity so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a little uncharacteristic.

And, 25 years later, it sounds kind of influential. I don’t know if that’s this album, Shaggy’s career in general, or just Dancehall at large, but a lot of this has become part of the lexicon in a way that I never would have guessed had I listened to it in 1995. (In 1995 Shaggy seemed exotic to me, even if I didn’t like it.) It feels like this approach to music making is just normal now, one of the many tools that many pop performers rely on.

I still don’t like it, but at least I can understand why others like it.


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