While never making inroads into the UK or U.S. dancehall/reggae dub market, Shaggy’s previous efforts found marketable legs in Jamaica—the home of reggae. Fortunately, his breakthrough single, “Church Heathen” (also featured on Intoxication), brought the world’s music spotlight to Shaggy and his irresistible vocal stylings—an interesting fusion of staccato, punctuated vocal rhymes and tempo-driven, melodic “Gregorian monk” chants. The backbeat fills a wonderful supportive role; combined with Shaggy’s powerful lyrics, Intoxication gets you, well, intoxicated on the grooves and melodies to make you get up and shake your booty for such tracks as opener “Can’t Hold Me,” the title track and “Criteria.” While the majority of the album succumbs to the “radio-friendly” business model, Shaggy does give a nod to his Jamaican background, focusing on pure reggae tones with such tracks as “Bonafide Girl” and “Reggae Vibes”—no shocker there! As a special treat, big-name hip hop/R&B players make special appearances; stand-outs are Akon on “What’s Love” and Nasha on “Those Days.” For a great introduction to a relative newcomer to the U.S. reggae market, this 17-track release puts the focus on what Shaggy does best—create a great reggae hit with undercurrents of R&B and radio-friendly beats.
Must Play: “Church Heathen.”
Producer: Robert Livingston. Engineers: Claude Reynolds, Stephen Siravo Jr., Andrew Thielk. Mastering: Paul Shields.