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Sting & Shaggy
What do you get when you bring the former Police bassist/frontman and Jamaican dancehall superstar together to record a song? You get a surprising collaboration between Grammy-award winning artists Sting & Shaggy, resulting in an island-inspired reggae album entitled, ‘44/876’, the country codes for the UK and Jamaica. 44/876 (A&M/Interscope), which drops today, April 20, 2018, aka 4/20, is a celebration of Sting & Shaggy’s mutual love and respect of Jamaica, its music, the spirit of its people and vibrancy of its culture.
I know what you’re thinking… Sting & Shaggy singing on a reggae album together? Yeah… and it’s IRIE, Mon! For those of you who are still scratching your heads, Sting may not be Jamaican but he has reggae roots instilled in him from his days with The Police. Bob Marley was a major influence and inspiration to Sting, but it was the bass guitar in reggae music that ultimately turned him on. Sting also spent many days in Jamaica during the ’80’s, sitting at Ian Flemings desk at Goldeneye, writing such classics as The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ and ‘King of Pain’.
One of rock music’s most notably inventive bass players, Sting traces his love of reggae to the bass-driven melodies that served as a prime inspiration for his work with The Police. With the pioneering British band’s near-decade-long run yielding five studio albums—and earning six Grammy Awards, plus an induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003—Sting’s illustrious solo career has led to an additional 10 Grammy Awards, two Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, four Oscar nominations, a TONY nomination, Billboard Magazine’s Century Award, and MusiCares’ 2004 Person of the Year honor. All told, he’s sold close to 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Shaggy moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn as a teen where he attended high school and first realized his talent as a lyricist while freestyling with his Flatbush classmates. After serving in the US Marines for four years, he made his musical breakthrough in 1993 with ‘Oh Carolina’, a track that holds the distinction of being the first-ever dancehall record to chart in England (where it spent two weeks at No. 1. on the UK Singles Chart). A major force in boosting the worldwide popularity of reggae and dancehall music, Shaggy later went on to win the Best Reggae Album prize at the 1996 Grammy Awards for his third full-length effort Boombastic (featuring the platinum-selling and iconic title track). His catalogue also includes the No. 1 mega-hits ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and ‘Angel’, both of which appeared on his diamond-selling album Hot Shot. Shaggy currently resides in Jamaica with his wife and children.
So how did this unlikely collaboration come about?
The connection between Sting & Shaggy developed when Martin Kierszenbaum, Sting’s manager and Shaggy’s former A&R exec, brought the artists together. Martin, who is also a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, suggested that Sting sing as guest vocals on the track, ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’, a song intended for a new Shaggy album.
“Don’t make me wait, don’t make me wait
To love, to love, to love you (I can’t wait no fi love ya)
Don’t make me wait, don’t make me wait
To love, to love, to love you.”
‘DON’T MAKE ME WAIT’, STING & SHAGGY, 44/876
The original plan was to only record one song, however, the instant chemistry between the two artists sparked more rhythms, lyrics and melodies and as a result, more songs emerged. The collaboration proved fruitful and six weeks later, the two artists managed to record a full album together featuring 12 solid tracks.
Sting & Shaggy recorded ‘44/876’ in Jamaica and New York, joined in the studio by various musicians including the legendary Robbie Shakespeare of Sly and Robbie, Morgan Heritage, Branford Marsalis, dancehall sensation Aidonia, Agent Sasco and Sting’s longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller. All sessions for 44/876 was produced in part by Sting International, responsible for some of Shaggy’s global hits including ‘Oh, Carolina’, ‘Boombastic’ and ‘It Wasn’t Me’, and executive produced by Martin Kierszenbaum, whose credits include songs written and produced for Sting, Lady Gaga and Madonna. ‘44/876’ was mixed by Sting International, Robert ‘Hitmixer’ Orton and Tony Lake.
Sting & Shaggy debuted ‘Don’t Make Me Wait” in front of 20,000 people in Kingston, Jamaica, at the Shaggy & Friends annual charity concert held on January 6, 2018, which benefits the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston.
The music video for ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’, was also filmed in the heart of the city, directed by Gil Green (Drake, Nicki Minaj). When the track officially released on January 25, 2018, it debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Digital Singles Sales Chart. The official release was followed by a surprise performance at the 2018 Grammy’s.
This summer, Shaggy will join Sting on his European Summer tour, performing at historic venues. The two artists will perform together and separately, playing selections from their ‘44/876’ release. They will also explore and perform each other’s most celebrated hits with their band including songs such as ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Englishman in New York’, ‘Message in a Bottle’, ‘It Wasn’t Me’, ‘Mr. Boombastic’ and ‘Angel’.
IRIE Magazine highly recommends you head on over to https://stingandshaggy.com/ and get your copy of ‘44/876’. Music fans familiar with Sting & Shaggy’s catalogue of hits will truly appreciate the end results from this surprising collaboration. And once you’ve played the album in its entirety, you’ll get a feeling from the album that Sting & Shaggy had a really great time recording together. Make no mistake, ‘44/876’ is one happy accident! Big UP Sting & Shaggy!
Maaaad Love & Respect from IRIE Magazine!!