Various Artists

All Praises Due: Tribute to Shaggy

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If Shaggy wasn't a household name before 2000's Hot Shot, by the time his singles "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel" dropped, he might as well have been president. More omnipresent in the summer of 2000 than "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and "The Thong Song" combined, "It Wasn't Me" spread its legs and straddled the line between insulting and sexy, and sold millions of records in the process. What's strange about that? The song isn't included on All Praises Due: A Tribute to Shaggy. A confusing, ultimately irritating collection, All Praises is neither a worthy tribute nor entertaining as a stand-alone album. Of the ten songs here, "Boombastic" is the only one of Shaggy's notable singles included. "Oh Carolina," the pop-dancehall chatter's breakthrough, is nowhere to be found; nor are worthy follow-up singles like "That Girl,""Angel," or "Luv Me Luv Me." The collection instead features album tracks from Pure Pleasure (his 1993 debut), Midnite Lover, and the Boombastic LP. But All Praises is also at fault for siphoning off Shaggy's cheeky charm. It's what defines the artist from reggae-influenced also-rans; it's what saves a song like "It Wasn't Me" from being labeled as smut. But rather than try to emulate "Mr. Lover Lover"'s "dog-a-muffin" chatting style, the unknowns here merely sing his words over tepid synths and forgettable urban soul. "Boombastic" itself receives a Euro-beat update that forsakes the original's slow-grind reggae groove for the sound of the world's worst workout tape. It's unclear what the collection's producers were thinking with this particular tribute album, but one thing is for sure: All Praises Due isn't going to be fogging up anyone's windows.

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