Sting Describes Himself as ‘Shaggy’s Bass Player’
The LP, titled after the international dialing codes of the U.K. and Jamaica, was made because the artists enjoyed the experience of working together on “Don’t Make Me Wait,” which was originally intended to be a one-off single.
Their mutual interest in Jamaica – “its music, the spirit of its people and vibrancy of its culture,” they noted in a press release – led to a question from the BBC about cultural appropriation. “It's such an ugly term," Sting replied. "For me, reggae is something I respect and value, and take seriously. It's something I've learned from. I owe a great deal to the whole reggae bass community. My spiritual, musical mentor was Bob Marley – who I knew – and I really feel that I'm doing something that feels authentic to me.”
Sting said that working with Shaggy "gives it that extra edge. He's an authentic reggae dancehall superstar. I dabble and I dibble, but that was the common ground we had." Looking ahead to their tour, which will feature both solo and duet sections, he joked, “I'm going to be Shaggy's bass player, playing Mr Boombastic.”
Shaggy said he learned a lot from the former Police frontman. “When we do reggae, it's normally a one-chord or a two-chord, or whatever it is," he explained. "With Sting, there'll be chord changes, key changes. You'll find a reggae beat but it'll have jazz chords on it. That was pretty interesting for me."
Sting enjoyed the experience of having to work in a more spontaneous fashion than he was used to. “I may have written almost the whole lyric, and I would say to Shaggy, 'Well, here's the theme,” he reported. “You write a verse of your own and see where that takes us.' So it became a kind of soup -- you know, you throw something in a soup and it kind of fizzes a bit.”
Sting and Shaggy's European tour starts on June 19. You can watch their video for "Don't Make Me Wait" below.