‘Level up or get left behind’- Shaggy says artiste managers should make themselves an asset

You sort of know when a Jamaican artiste is in the building. You’re bound to see a sea of men encircling the deejay or singer as if their life depended on it, and among the men is usually the roadie, the artiste’s manager.

Shaggy does a better job at illustrating how this role is often filled.

Grammy-award winning entertainer Shaggy. (Photo: Destinee Condison/BUZZ)

“Most of the new artistes have a breddren beside dem weh a dem friend, dem man deh a go through the trenches wid yuh,” he starts. “Weh da man deh ago call himself? Just entourage? After a while him a go seh, ‘a me a di manager, a mi a di roadie’.”

But if this uppity employee is behind in Music Business 101, he may not stand the benefits of the new whip, hotel trips or selfies with superstars for very long.

“You haffi do your homework and be an asset to that artiste and not a liability to that artiste.”

— Shaggy

“When you start buss and some other man come to you, yuh cya lef your likkle youth yah so. Sharon Burke call yuh and seh she a go deal with your ting, and my boy a seh ‘what happen to my 20 per cent?’. Yeah,  but if me a go give you 20, and give Sharon 20, then you a cut inna my ting. So you now as the brethren have to have a value. If me a di sidekick mi a go educate myself pon di ting…you haffi do your homework and be an asset to that artiste and not a liability to that artiste.”

And if you fail to level up, Shaggy adds, “Yuh cya vex when di artiste seh ‘mi outgrow you’ and move on because you nah move as fast as me or step up as fast as me. Yuh a go call me all types of names but mi have my food and my pickney fi run and my career.”

The It Wasn’t Me hitmaker said gone are the days when managers and producers ran the show, and urged artistes to recognise that they steer the ship.

Shaggy on stage recently with young reggae artiste Kemar Highcon, whose career he’s helping to mould. (Photo: Destinee Condison/BUZZ)

“Dem have a big misconception from the old days seh the producer is the boss, the manager is the boss. A me a di artiste, a me a di boss, you work fi me. Every artiste fi know seh everybody round dem work fi dem.

“Part of you going on stage and winning people over is having the confidence to win people over. If you have a man a boss yuh, how your confidence a go up when da man deh a try inflict fi him ideology and ideas pon you?” he posited.

Shaggy was speaking at the seventh Jamaica Music Conference held at the Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston on Saturday, February 15. The session also included contributions from DJ Kool Herc, Gramps Morgan and Kemar Highcon.