Shaggy's Unique Voice: Marine Influence Revealed

Behind Shaggy's Iconic Voice Lies a Surprising Journey

by Zain ul Abedin
Shaggy's Unique Voice: Marine Influence Revealed
© Jason Koerner/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

In a surprising revelation, renowned musician and rapper Shaggy, born Orville Richard Burrell CD, shared the intriguing backstory behind his distinctive vocal style in a TikTok video on Saturday. The 55-year-old artist disclosed that his iconic voice was cultivated through impersonating drill instructors during his time in the military, particularly in the Marines.

Recalling moments where drill instructors would bark commands like "Drop and give me 20, let's go, boy," Shaggy humorously mimicked them to motivate his platoon. Eventually, he found that singing in this voice, exemplified in hits like his 1995 track "Boombastic," resonated with audiences and simply sounded "cool." Reflecting on his musical journey, Shaggy recounted how the unexpected success of his 1993 cover of "Oh Carolina" forced him to confront the notion of maintaining a consistent vocal style throughout his career.

He highlighted variations in tone across his repertoire, such as in tracks like "Big Up" and "Mampie," which diverged from the vocal style of "Oh Carolina."

Shaggy's Military Service

Prior to his illustrious music career, Shaggy served in the Marines, enlisting in 1988 as an artilleryman.

He deployed to the Middle East during the liberation of Kuwait in 1990-1991 as part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Despite experiencing setbacks due to unauthorized absences, Shaggy rose to the rank of lance corporal before his discharge in 1992.

In a candid interview with PEOPLE in August 2023, Shaggy clarified the true message behind his hit song "It Wasn't Me," emphasizing that it's an anti-cheating anthem often misconstrued as a justification for infidelity. He highlighted a crucial dialogue within the song where one character acknowledges the error of their ways, a detail often overlooked by listeners fixated on the titular refrain.

As Shaggy continues to captivate audiences with his music, his revelations offer a fascinating glimpse into the multifaceted journey that shaped his remarkable career.