Shaggy Christmas in the Islands download mp3. The Grammy Award-winning reggae artist’s new album, out Friday, Nov. 20, puts a Jamaican spin on the Yuletide traditions — starting with the opening “No Icy Christmas” and sledding through 14 more, mostly original tracks. He has plenty of help in doing it, too, from American soul great Ne-Yo to the soulful British singer Joss Stone and reggae mates such as Bounty Killer, Junior Reid, Beenie Man and more.
The flavor is decided of the “Islands,” but the joyous vibe is the same. And as we get closer to full-on winter, Shaggy makes his Jamaica, free of snow and ice, sound like a compelling alternative.
The multi-Grammy Award winner and native of Kingston, Jamaica says the record was inspired by seeing so many tourists coming down to Jamaica for the holidays without necessarily getting introduced to the different Christmas traditions of the Caribbean, like drinking sorrel and kids shopping for toys at the Grand Market on Christmas morning.
“The Caribbean has a different vibe at Christmas than New York,” the artist said from his stateside home on Long Island. “It’s almost like a Carnival season — the family gathers, but there’s also back-to-back parties.”
Christmas in the Islands, released on Nov. 20, throws in a couple of sentimental favorites, with Shaggy taking a solo turn on I’ll Be Home for Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. But the bulk of the 15-track record are uptempo original holiday songs recorded in collaboration with more than a dozen other artists, from relative unknowns to A-listers like Beenie Man and Joss Stone.
“It’s a party CD,” says Shaggy, who said he enjoys collaborating with new artists who are unafraid to take risks — like doing a dancehall Christmas song, for example. “My collaborators are people I have a relationship with,” he adds, lending the sense of trust needed to make a record like Christmas in the Islands authentic and not just a walk-through.
If the title sounds vaguely familiar, it’s perhaps because Jimmy Buffett recorded the similarly titled Christmas Island in 1995 and, before that, a song called Christmas in the Caribbean.
Shaggy laughs at the Buffett comparison.
“Jimmy Buffett — that guy made an empire on one goddamn song,” he said. “He’s my hero.”
It’s no surprise that an artist whose biggest hits have included “It Wasn’t Me” and “Mr. Boombastic” readily shakes off critics and doesn’t hesitate to take chances that other, more image-conscious singers might not, whether that’s sampling the syrupy pop song “Angel of the Morning,” recording something as potentially uncool as a Christmas album, or unexpectedly teaming up with Sting for the surprise hit album 44/876 in 2018.
Shaggy describes his partnership with the former Police frontman-turned-ballad crooner as the result of a random encounter in the studio — the two share a manager — but said the artists bonded instantly over a shared love of reggae, ska, and calypso music.
“Sting is the brother I didn’t know I needed,” he laughs.
“My music is really a hybrid,” continues Shaggy. “I’m not going to say I’m going to [be] Bob Marley only better, so I have to do me.”
“I don’t take nothing about music too seriously,” he adds. “Some people say music is like birthing a child. That’s fucking bullshit. I can write a song every hour — it’s not a child, it’s a song.
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