That said, Summer does have its perks; outdoor concerts, barbecues, beers on the stoop – all wonderful yearly pastimes that clearly are not feasible in New England’s infamous Winter. And with said pastimes comes the inevitability of enjoying music outdoors, and not just any music. Summer has its own brand of music, something that can be as cold and calculating as a winter forecast (Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun” and Sugar Ray’s “Fly” both come right to mind as calculated Summer Anthems) or as organic and inexplicable as the simple pleasure of enjoying a Lienenkugel Sunset Wheat on your buddy’s porch. Jamaican pop artist Shaggy’s 2000 album “Hot Shot” is a perfect example of the latter.Often treated as novelty music at this juncture, Shaggy’s fifth album was a slick blend of Rap, R&B, and Pop with the occasional nod to Reggae.Often treated as novelty music at this juncture, Shaggy’s fifth album (two past his then-biggest hit, “Bombastic”) was a slick blend of Rap, R&B, and Pop with the occasional nod to Reggae. Its lead single “Angel” fared moderately well, and was my introduction to the album. Sampling Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” and borrowing a melody from Chip Taylor’s “Angel of the Morning”, it was an excellent example of the possibilities of the burgeoning world of Mashups. Singer Rayvon provided a smooth lead vocal between Shaggy’s more abrasive verses, both completely sincere in their declarations of love.
Second single “It Wasn’t Me” was the true draw to the album for most. In stark contrast to “Angel”’s musings on love and devotion, “It Wasn’t Me” was an overt list of suggestions of excuses for cheating on a significant other. Like “Angel”, “It Wasn’t Me” employed the backing vocals of another singer (Rikrok in this case) and did so to great effect. Rikrok’s whiny pleas during the chorus juxtaposed perfectly with Shaggy’s unique and thick voice, this time chastising in nature. Plus, I just think that any song that contains the lyric “Banging on the bathroom floor” (in the chorus, even!) deserves a special place in all of our hearts. The song was such a success at the time that “Angel” gained much more attention after it was re-released in the wake of it.All things become simple through Shaggy’s magical filter of the universe.Other tracks, including the endlessly catchy “Hope” and wonderfully laid back “Keep’n It Real”, provide a buoyant bed for the album’s more serious moments. However, even the darker moments of this album are lifted by lyrical topics that are slightly more superficial than the music would suggest. “Not Fair”, for example, reduces the battle of the sexes to a simple complaint of a lack of oral sex in a relationship. All things become simple through Shaggy’s magical filter of the universe.
A few elements of “Hot Shot” have certainly not aged terribly well, most notably its production. It contains a heavy amount of bass, but unless you’re listening through speakers with a decent subwoofer, you’re going to hear a very tinny sounding mix. Some of the drums and synthesizers sound as if they were stock MIDI samples employed by Casio in the mid-90s; it’s telling when the samples of existing sounds generally sound much better than the actual newly performed instruments.
That said, “Hot Shot” remains a great example of a solid and fun Summertime album. The next time you have some friends over for a barbecue or porch beers, be sure to give this forgotten gem a chance. It’s as Summer as oppressive heat and sticky t-shirts.
Would you be caught banging listening to Hot Shot? Let us know in the comments below!