Sting has said the phrase “cultural appropriation” is “ugly”, as he launches a new reggae album with Jamaican musician and singer Shaggy.
Their perhaps unlikely partnership has raised eyebrows, and some argue that singing reggae when you are not of Jamaican descent is “cultural appropriation.”
Sting disagrees with this, and he reportedly said: “It’s such an ugly term.
“For me, reggae is something I respect and value, and take seriously. It’s something I’ve learned from.
“I owe a great deal to the whole reggae bass community. My spiritual, musical mentor was Bob Marley – who I knew – and I really feel that I’m doing something that feels authentic to me.
“Working with Shaggy gives it that extra edge. He’s an authentic reggae dancehall superstar. I dabble and I dibble, but that was the common ground we had.”
Cultural appropriation is a term coined by sociologists to describe the adoption of the elements of an ethnic minority culture by members of the dominant culture.
Their new collaboration, named 44/876, after the telephone codes for the UK and Jamaica respectively, came about after Shaggy, real-name Orville Richard Burrell, sent Sting an unfinished song called “Don’t Make Me Wait” and asked him to send the chorus.
This work blossomed, and they created an entire album together.
The collision of Sting and Shaggy’s musical universes seems to have run smoothly, despite the artists’ differing approaches to songcraft.
“He’s a very meticulous person when it comes to the instrumentation,” observes Shaggy.
Sting, on the other hand, had to adapt his scholarly approach to Shaggy’s more spontaneous style.
Sting, real name Gordon Sumner, said the result was a “happy accident.”
The Queen is soon due to enjoy the music of Sting and Shaggy, as they are set to perform at her birthday party, 21 April, at the Royal Albert Hall.
44/876 was released on 20 April.