It was a full circle moment for Dancehall megastar Shaggy, who was captured in a reflective mood while waiting to perform for Marines at Fort Sill – a US Army post in Oklahoma. Coincidentally, the superstar revealed, he was stationed at the base for a few months during his time as a member of the US Marine Corps (USMC).
Documenting his nostalgia via an Instagram post, the Grammy-winner shared: “It’s always a wonderful feeling when the opportunity presents itself to play for your servicemen and women of the armed forces.”
The post continued: “I, myself, being a Marine, know the feeling when we get to experience some good entertainment. Tonite we play on the base at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. I was stationed here for a few months training for my job as an artillery man. It’s good to be back behind these gates and between these old walls. I had a chance to chat with the troops and I must say they are still as motivated as ever!!”
“Thank you for your service!! And I look forward to a great show tonite. Semper fi” the post concluded, echoing the Marine Corps motto, which is Latin for ‘Always Faithful’.
Shaggy’s legacy as a military veteran is well-known. The Boombastic singer reportedly left Jamaica at the age of 18 to join his mother in US, where he would ultimately pursue a career in music.
Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Burrell, hit a bit of a lull in his early pursuit of music. In 1988, after an extended search for work proved unfruitful, Shaggy enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served an artillery man, specifically – a Field Artillery Cannon Crewman.
He served with a Field Artillery Battery in the 10th Marine Regiment during the Persian Gulf War, which took place from 1990 to 1991.
Following that experience, Shaggy would soon leave the military to refocus on his music career, this time with discipline and commitment he hadn’t known prior to joining the military.
In 2020, while reflecting on his time in the military in an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Shaggy had this to say about how the military prepared him: “It had an impact on me being in the music business because the military was preparing me for everything to do with being successful, and I knew that I was going to have it harder than the average artiste because of the fact that the genre I was in didn’t give me the privileges that other genres did.”
To combat those challenges, Shaggy tapped into his military discipline, explaining in a separate interview with Sky News: “I would get up really early in the morning, I would work really, really late. And it’s just that kind of discipline. People say you go to the military to learn to fire a gun – I went to the military to learn to balance my cheque book. That’s what that taught me to do.”
Not long after, in 1993, Shaggy would go on to release his debut album, ‘Pure Pleasure’. Tracks like ‘Oh Carolina’, ‘Mampie’ and ‘Big Up’ introduced Shaggy’s unique style to an unacquainted audience, and set the tone for his eventual place as one of Dancehall and Reggae’s most marketable talents, and one of the most successful artists of all time.