Internet freebooters may be the scourge of the recording industry, but music-downloading sites like Napster and MP3.com may have a fan in reggae artist Shaggy. A few months ago a Honolulu deejay lifted "It Wasn't Me," Shaggy's playful ode to cheating, from the Web and added it to his rotation. In a matter of weeks the track (from this album), which contrasts Shaggy's rough and slightly leering growl with the smooth, soulful vocals of singing partner RikRok, began to climb the charts. Now, nearly seven months after its release, the once moribund Hotshot has become a Top 10 Billboard pop hit.
For the Jamaica-born and Brooklyn-raised Shaggy (né Orville Richard Burrell), Hotshot's success means a welcome return to the charts. After scoring several hits (including "That Girl" and "Oh Carolina") in the early '90s, the now 31-year-old Gulf War veteran won a Grammy for his 1995 crossover album Boombastic. As was the case with his previous CDs, Hotshot is an entertaining showcase for Shaggy's distinctive delivery and his blend of R & B, pop and dance-hall reggae styles. Whether remaking Merrilee Rush's 1968 pop classic "Angel of the Morning" as a lilting ballad ("Angel") or turning his love light on the lascivious "Not Fair," Shaggy lets his charm shine through.