SO's beloved, bon vivant, and author Vanity Fair contributor George Wayne recently had a tête-à-tête with Mr Hot Shot himself, Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell, over lunch at the Da Silvano restaurant in the Big Apple. The two sat down at the Rihanna Table — Rihanna's favourite spot at her favourite restaurant — on Avenue of the Americas by Houston Street in Greenwich Village. There was much to discuss as the two traded ideas on everything from The Rock to London and James Bond to Shaggy's latest endeavours. It's GW vs Shaggy...
GEORGE WAYNE (GW): Have you ever met a tarantula you didn't like? In your travels across the globe, what is the scariest hotel room experience you've ever had?
SHAGGY: I was once in the Congo in a hotel room that reeked. It smelled so bad I actually slept in my clothes and in my hoodie. I left that country the very next day.
GW: Let's get to the heart of the matter here. Are you excited about headlining the world's newest musical Mecca — The Barclays Center in Brooklyn?
SHAGGY: Have you been there yet?
GW: No, but I expect to have an all-access laminate to your concert there on the night of December 12.
SHAGGY: Oh, it's beautiful, and I think it is brilliantly designed. You have to see it to believe it. It's actually quite a huge facility.
GW: Have you seen the new James Bond movie Skyfall yet? I was at the premiere screening the other night at the Museum Of Modern Art called BOND 50, and it was just amazing to watch. All the incredible vintage photos of Ian Fleming at his home in Oracabessa, and never-before-seen outtakes from Bond movies shot all over the West Indies — it's fabulous! I'm just wondering if you have ever wished to create a theme song for a James Bond movie?
SHAGGY: I would love to. In fact, the simple reason I own an Aston Martin motor car is because I am such a huge James Bond fan. And when you think about it, James Bond is Jamaican because it is where he was created... that is where the man was born.
GW: Exactly... in the mind of Ian Fleming!
SHAGGY: Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
GW: Where have you been of late and what have you been working on? Have you left the scene for a while before this comeback of sorts in Brooklyn this December?
SHAGGY: I have never left the scene. I have been touring and have been on the road. I have sold a massive number of records and I love touring the world. Dancehall will never die. I have been on tour since July and won't stop until December. I was just in London and had the most amazing experience at the Olympics. The Government of Jamaica asked me to write the official song for the Jamaican Olympic contingent and I performed it all over. The song was called On A Mission. That was the highlight of the summer. It was great to be a Jamaican in London this summer and to see our colours everywhere you went in London. A lot of people were cheering for Jamaica in London and we didn't disappoint them. There were a lot of Jamaicans from Jamaica there, too! It was just amazing. I saw the men's 100m finals with my own eyes and it was a special moment. The Brits put on a great Olympic Games.
GW: Are you friends with Usain Bolt?
SHAGGY: I know him, but he's a young guy who loves life and is always the life of the party. He's a party guy.
GW: I have never met him, but please tell him to stay out of the fast, expensive cars he keeps mangling — until he can learn to properly handle them.
GW: What hospital were you born? Tell me a bit of your backstory.
SHAGGY: I was born at the University Hospital and went to school at Duhaney Park Primary. Growing up I was a huge fan of Yellowman. I idolised him as a kid and had a few encounters with him while growing up. I will never forget one of the first times I was in Cross Roads and I would always see Yellowman, just walking the streets in Cross Roads. Back then he drove a taxi and I used to 'bum a ride' in his yellow taxi. It was a yellow BMW taxi and I would always stand in the same spot and hail him in his yellow taxi. And then I started going to shows at Skateland, and then doing shows at Skateland. By that time Yellowman was a superstar.
GW: What would you consider your favourite hit of all the hits of Shaggy over the past decade?
SHAGGY: You think I would say Boombastic, but my favourite was It Wasn't Me.
GW: The last time I saw you, Shaggy, was on a first-class Air Jamaica flight from JFK to Kingston. I was going to Kingston to take in Kingsley Cooper's fantastic world-class edition of Caribbean Fashion Week. You were going home to Kingston and then there was this other character sitting across from you whom I had never heard of before, but when I told my sister Debra I was on the flight with Shaggy and Elephant Man she was shocked, just shocked that I had never heard of him! He was a non-stop joke machine on that flight too. The 'stews' in first class can attest to that. He was a non-stop jokester and a loud one!
SHAGGY: Yes, I remember that. He is a funny guy for sure.
GW: How often are you in Jamaica?
SHAGGY: I live in Jamaica. It's my home and my base of operations. There is a certain amount of love and respect that I get from being home in Jamaica from my fans, and yes, around the world, too, but when you are loved at home nothing can beat that. I take very seriously, too, my foundation The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation. I'm very hands-on with it. That is my hospital charity since the year 2000, and my best-selling album Hot Shot allowed me the opportunity to keep my promise to the doctors and nurses of Bustamante Children's Hospital. I walked in there with a cheque and I have not stopped giving since that day, 12 years ago. That money raised from The Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation goes towards a range of needs, whether it's fixing a leaking roof to funding the purchase of medical machines. The concert I do on the lawns of Jamaica House every year, thanks to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, is something I look forward to more than anything else. And every last cent is donated to that charity. I won't be doing that concert this year because of the scheduling conflict and the big show at the Barclays Center.
GW: There, you said it — BIG show in Brooklyn! That will be one concert at the Barclays Center not to be missed. When does inspiration come to you? Talk about your creative process. When does inspiration suddenly spring to mind... is it before you try falling asleep? Does it come while you are in the shower? When do you get inspiration?
SHAGGY: You know, I never know what direction I am going to go until I am in the studio and I hear the music in my head and I go from there. That is the starting point for me, personally. I always go in with a clear head and no real fixed idea as to what I am going to do. That's my thing, and that is what works for me.
GW: I am sure you have heard about the scandal between Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley. In his new autobiography, Wyclef Jean drops a bombshell that Lauryn Hill was trying to pass off Rohan Marley's child as his. She couldn't force herself to simply tell the truth that she was cheating on Wyclef with Rohan Marley.
SHAGGY: I heard that Wyclef put a book out talking about Lauryn, which I just think is very tacky — end of story. I am friends with both of them, but I don't understand why he has to write a book about that now.
GW: I will say it, I don't have to be diplomatic and, yes, I will say it, Shaggy — but Lauryn Hill is a bit of a nut. There, I said it. But lately, I will also say she seems to be doing okay. She looked great going into court the other day.
SHAGGY: At the end of the day I don't think it was cool what Wyclef did.
GW: Which worldwide artiste are you feeling these days? Of all of them out there, who is your personal favourite?
Shaggy: Rihanna. She is busting up the place. That's my girl right there — Rihanna!
GW: I figured that, and that's why I thought we should meet here at Rihanna's favourite table at her favourite Manhattan restaurant Da Silvano. And you have been really wonderful company, Shaggy. I cannot wait for your historic concert at the already world-famous Barclays Center where you will be the very first Jamaican to play in concert. SO readers should head to Brooklyn, New York City, for that historic concert.