Shaggy: Hot Shot Ultramix

J. Victoria Sanders


Hot Shot Ultramix

Label: MCA
US Release Date: 2002-02-05
UK Release Date: 2002-02-04

If you love Shaggy, it's probably not for his depth or social pertinence. Despite the fact that he performed his first hit, "Oh Carolina" in army uniform while he was still stationed in North Carolina, he's not scruffy or political -- his songs aren't necessarily classic in nature and don't have the staying power of those performed by, say, a reggae legend like Bob Marley. But the Brooklyn-born Shaggy who crept up on the American music scene in the mid-'90s with his "dog-a-muffin" singing style is more of a sexy pop star than an apt dancehall representative. If you've purchased any of his four albums -- from Pure Pleasure in 1993 to Hot Shot in 2000 -- Hot Shot Ultramix is an aural fiesta. They are songs you can sing along to at the top of your lungs, even though the lyrics are generic and trite. It's fun, no less, despite the fact that Shaggy's about as important in the music nerd sense as junk food is to the food pyramid.

None of that eclipses Shaggy's appeal, particularly in the UK, where he built his fanbase and where his first single sold 60,000 copies (which isn't bad for a guy who didn't set out to be a singer in the first place.) He's steadily made a name for himself as an experimental performer and though he sometimes falls short in creating complete and elaborate songs, it's clear that he doesn't care and he rarely misses the mark with his fans. If you're new to Shaggy's style, however, this remix album isn't a good place to start. Better to listen to his whole catalogue and then, if you like the original, radio-friendly versions of his work, you'll love Hot Shot Ultramix.

"It Wasn't Me (Punch Mix)" is a close cousin of genuine dancehall, despite the fact that the original wasn't that gripping to begin with. It's not as glossy as it's original incarnation, which was a huge international hit, but the beat makes it a little less grating on the nerves to listen to after a couple of spins. On the other hand, the second remix of the song, called the "Cartel Mix" features a lazy rap intro that sounds awkward and unrelated to anything the song is about. (And after being bombarded by the song for more than four months after it was first released, it's hard to get adjusted to the sound of a rapper attempting to update it -- especially in a languid way.) "Too Hot to Handle" is a dainty song that lingers in the R&B genre, but like most of Shaggy's songs, blurs so many genres with it's universal appeal for good times and carefree booty grinding. Like the mix of "Hope", a sweet sappy voice is featured on most of Shaggy's choruses while he maintains his rumbling trademark growl on each verse.

"Keepin' It Real (Swinger's mix)" is inspirational because of the lulling, sticky sweet beat and the less than profound shout out to all the "regular" folks who are struggling against life's "harsh realities." The message gets lost in the soft pop shine of the song, but it's a nice thought. The dancehall mix of "Dance and Shout" takes a more than generous sample of Michael Jackson's "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground" and spins it into a hyper club song that should only be played around a keg at college parties or when a Soul Train line is in it's warm up phase.

Much of the album seems designed for those with a mild interest in dancehall without caring much about more hardcore artists like Shabba Ranks. Regardless, if there is one thing Shaggy is excellent at, it's having fun and telling silly (sometimes slightly inspirational) stories with his music. While it's not groundbreaking or legendary music, at least Shaggy's having a good time -- and selling millions of records while he's at it.





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.