Release Date: Sept 95
Chart Position: 1
So we arrive at another defining moment of neggae and arguably our last chance for a full house. I’m pretty sure we have not been able to give anything a 50/50 yet (much to Jonny Gills surprise) and I am approaching this with huge anticipation and to be honest I’m also a little nervous about it. A bit like a footballer approaching a big game knowing that they have to perform, I have been delaying the review process ensuring that I can give it my full attention and balanced opinion (that is at least an original excuse for being late again, better than Norm’s new kitchen effort, why do you need a kitchen when you’ve got an egg?). Anyway, I have just settled in with United vs. City on the box, opened a cold one and ready to give this my undivided attention. So here goes, my level headed view… This is f***ing amazing and maybe the best song that has ever been written! Shaggy enters the room by kicking in a door and smashes us with that unforgetable intro that hits you like a sandy flip flop to the face. The rusty feedback from the guitar chords is special and mentally takes you to a magical nightclub where your Shaggy’s VIP with Malibu and girls on tap. A club where pretty girls walk round handing out Rollovers and black death tar flavoured Sambuca and last orders that never quite arrive but you live constantly in that last 45mins of the night, the bit of the night when all the cool sh*t happens. Where there is always that comfortably busy amount of people on the D Floor that only really happens on TV and where there is a girl walking round with a piece of toilet paper stuck to her heel to provide a shared and common joke amongst the other party people. The lyrics are cool as and the “…touch me in my back she says I’m Mr Ro……” that leaves us hanging for a second or two is one of the best moments in neg history, pure class! Chuck in some chat about cheese and peas, turtles and and a foot bottom, it all makes for quite a ride. 10/10 from me, it don’t be no better dan dis ever!
A confession: I didn’t much care for this at the time. It was a deeper, harder proposition than the standard neggae fare, and as a Year 8 at a boys’ grammar school without a great deal of life experience the lyric didn’t really connect. A couple of decades on, though, things are different: I am a swaggering man of the world, maybe not in Shaggy’s premier division but at least around League One level, and my musical appreciation has matured. Physically, emotionally and intellectually, I am now ready to appreciate “Boombastic” to the full and give it the glowing write-up it deserves.
Because it is an astonishing track. The production must have been miles ahead of anything else in the chart at the time – it’s a painstaking deconstruction and reassembly of reggae into a minimal, hyper-tuned form where every remaining element tingles the spine. It’s a reggae version of what the Neptunes did with RnB a few years later. One snare in a bar, one piano chord, that two-stroke guitar riff, and looooots of space. Beautiful stuff, but it does need a compelling vocal to hold it all together…
…and fortunately Shaggy’s performance is out of this world. Usually songs with “Hello, this is who I am” as the subject are dicing with mortal danger – take for example the British rap non-entity Chipmunk on his debut single, gibbering about being Chip-Diddy-Chip and not tolerating lip-diddy-lip, people say he’s crazy but he don’t give a owh, the whole thing is just unspeakable, squirming garbage. Shaggy takes the same subject and makes it look like the easiest thing in the world. He’s Jesus Christ bogling across the lake while St Peter (Chip) scrabbles around getting devoured by barnacles. “She call me Mr Boombastic” – of course she does, we all do. “Say me fantastic” – yes we do. Normally I hate people like that, but in Shaggy’s case you can’t doubt his self-proclaimed greatness for a second. I don’t know who else could have pulled it off – Des Lynam maybe, before the ITV debacle, but you have to be THAT cool even to consider it.
The song is a mass of contradictions: romantic yet hilarious, monotonous yet thrilling, arrogant yet personable, experimental yet immediate. Criticisms? Well, “Boombastic” isn’t a word, so Shaggy’s probably forfeited his chance at a dictionary corner appearance, but I’m not Susie Dent. I honestly don’t see how it could ever be bettered.
Score: 10 out of 10
1974 – Muhammad Ali sustained 8 rounds of pummeling from George Foreman in the rumble in the Jungle. Eventually exhausted by his efforts, Foreman capitulates to Ali in the last seconds of the round. The technique is named ‘Rope-a-dope’, due to Ali using the ropes to take the strain of Foreman’s punches.
1999 – Manchester United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 by scoring goals in the 91st and the 93rd after trailing the entire game, thereby winning the European Champions’ League Final. Their ability to achieve success in the final minutes of a match coins the phrase ‘Fergie Time’. How times have changed.
2014 – After going missing from the Neggae Hot 90 for about two years (In the Summertime doesn’t count) , Orville Richard Burrell finally returns with what I believe to be the greatest Neggae hit we have seen. If Shaggy wins this, I want the phrase ‘he’s done a Shaggy’ there’ to enter common parlance for any time somebody nonchalantly rocks up at the end of something and delivers with fantastic aplomb.Boombastic is quite simply a fantastic pop record – a perfect exponent of the Dancehall sound that developed in JA through the 80s and 90s. Unlike a lot of the Neggae Hot 90 it is achingly modern, and while at its core it uses a sample of King Floyd’s “Baby Let Me Kiss You”, the production is so crisp you can hardly tell.
What hits you first are the huge guitar riffs, which for me explore the relatively overlooked relationship between Dancehall and Rock. Under mi Sleng Teng was based on an Eddie Cochran riff, and I think Boombastic cements the same, bluesy, deep-down-and-dirty feel that is common in the two genres. The song’s popularity was definitely aided by its use in the latest Levi’s advert, and I do wonder if without it such a harsh, sparse riddim could have topped the charts. But it did, and frankly, who cares?
The song structure is fantastically irregular – with multiple drum patterns switching in and out to accompany Shaggy’s incredible inventive wordplay. I also love the interchange between standard reggae chord stabs and the singular on-key pulse. Fantastic. After listening closely to this for the first time in nearly 20 years I also noticed that there is a blazing Jimi Hendrix style guitar solo around the 1m28 sec mark. So much going on in this record.
Shaggy absolutely revels in his lothario image in the song and the video, Theophilus P.Wildebeeste incarnate. But unlike similar Neggae lovermen such as Shabba Ranks, Shaggy’s lyrical dexterity is mindbendingly surreal – more in common with US hip-hop wordsmiths. So many lines to choose from but:
“I’m just like a turtle crawling out of my shell
Gal you captivate my body put me under a spell
With your cus cus perfume I love your sweet smell
You are the only young girl that can ring my bell “
Is my fave.
Also worth noting is the drawn out ‘Roooooo-mantic’ phrase – Shaggy cleverly managing to sound like a stopped record starting again. Lee Mack clearly a Neggae fan then.
Drawbacks? Well the song and specifically the Lover Lover catchphrase spawned a career for rubber-faced prank-phonecall DJ Steve Penk. I never cared for him much.
Score: After Tease Me, this is the greatest Neggae song on the chart. 10/10.
After some fairly middling releases I’ve been looking forward to this one, the man who gave Darren Anderton his nickname makes his third Hot 90 appearance, it’s SHAGGY. This originally came to my attention when used to soundtrack a Levi’s advert and it blew me away. The combination of neggae and clay motion was an instant hit for me, like the California Raisins on a cocktail of steroids and Viagra. They advert was to promote Levi’s boglestruts which used bogletron technology. The idea was you plugged your walkman into your Levi’s boglestruts, played some neggae and let the jeans strut for you instantly turning you into a sexual panther. I tried it on the way to work this morning and it worked as I got the digits of a couple of right little saucepots (well Dave the Frog and Hoover, and I had to grab a couple of smoked Peter Stuyvesant butts to seal the deal with Hooves, but like Carling Cup goals, they all count).
The song starts with some machine gun staccato drums and then Shaggy declaring himself ‘MR BOOMBASTIC’ and I make him right. The production is groundbreaking for neggae, I’m going out on a limb and saying this is Neggae 2.0. There’s a sonic chainsaw noise which is grimier than a Victorian chimney sweep this is coupled with a piano loop which adds the neggae flavour . The beat’s off time which probably makes this the first glitch house record, there’s also a bit of psyche wigging out guitar thrown in at various stages to complete the melting pot of musical styles. I had to seek out who produced this cerebral cortex melting number and it turns out the man himself, are there no ends to this man’s talents?
Lyrically it’s Shaggy at his braggadocios best as he hammers it home he’s the Casanova of the Caribbean and there are some fantastic rhyming couplets in there, my favourite being;
‘I’m just like a turtle crawling out of my shell, Gal you captivate my body put me under a spell’
He also drags out syllables where the lyrics don’t quite scan but does it with a sexual growl, frankly when he declares ‘I’m Mr Roooooo mantic’ my nipples go hard.
The video tips a nod to the Hype Williams RnB style videos of the time with a bevy of gals whinin’ with Shaggy in a big white mansion. It’s not particularly original but it’s had a bit of cash thrown at it and suits the theme of the song perfectly.
This is like Neggae from the future people, and with that in mind it has to be 10/10.
It doesn’t get much better than this. Shaggy is Shaggy and he slides in smoothly with a sublime offering in Boombastic. A nice intro and then Shaggy is off and running with his wildly efficient and raspy vocals that are easily recognizable to anyone with half an ear for mid 90’s neg. He glides through the song from verse to verse in true ‘lyrical lover” fashion. It’s a joy to listen to but for me at 3m5s Shaggy breaks it down and accelerates rapidly for about 25 seconds worth of rap which is most indecipherable but non the less very entertaining. This leaves me head bobbing, dreaming of Malibu cocktails and feeling satisfied. At the end Shaggy then slows it down, relaxes the mood and the song ends well, drifting off with one last word, “SMOOTH”. I like it and approve whole heartedly. Shaggy’s video production isn’t up to much but in his defense, it encompasses everything Shaggy stands for, scantily clad ladies, hip thrusting and looking suave. He accomplished that quickly and for that he will only get docked a little bit for that In my opinion if you don’t like Shaggy, you’re a goon, a non musical twonk with the personality of big Sam and probably enjoy listening to Ali Campbell while supping a ginger beer shandy.
Put me down for 9.9/10 only missing out on the ultimate prize because of a slightly dodgy video.
NEGGAE SCORE: 9.98