Robert Livingston, the former manager of Dancehall megastar Shaggy, was hailed by producer Shaun “Sting International” Pizzonia, as the “genius” who masterminded the mega-hit song, Boombastic, one of the most streamed Reggae/Dancehall songs of all time and this week’s Throwback Thursday song.
Sting made his comment last month, after iconic radio disc jockey, Collin “The Captain” Hines shared a breakdown of Boombastic’s sampling of American singer Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.
Boombastic was co-produced by both the New York-based Sting International and Robert Livingston, and was hailed as a classic example of sampling by Hines, who captioned the post: “#sampling Kkingfloys #djlife music begets music STUDY AND REPECT THE OLD SCHOOL KIDS!!”
Sting, in response, sought to give the genesis of the song and its beat, attributing the concept to Livingston, who parted ways with Shaggy in 2011.
“Boom. The original concept was Robert Livingston. He made the original sample track with the assistance of Denis Halliburton & Rafael Allen @ HC&F studio (Phillip Smart RIP),” Sting International noted.
“I heard the idea after the artist (Shaggy) voiced. I re-recorded the lead vocal, added the signature piano, added the low end kicks, moved a few things around and added the female vocals (which is really me) 😂…don’t ask, did the mix, and there you have it. 💁🏽 TEAMWORK…the way it used to be,” the Grammy-winning producer added.
Sting also hinted that a documentary, which, supposedly, will feature segments relating to how Robert Livingston, whom he described as an extraordinary marketer, was instrumental in making Boombastic, not only a global hit, but one of Shaggy’s most successful songs to date.
“It was also the marketing genius of R.L. to break the song out of Europe. There’s more to the story but that’ll be told in the documentary coming,” he said of the Big Yard producer.
Boombastic was released as the second single and title track from Shaggy’s third studio album in 1995, before being legitimately remixed by Sting International featuring the sample of American singer Marvin Gaye’s song in January 1996. According to Sting, he would be happy to speak in depth, on how the remix was made by him.
“When you’re ready to discuss the remix w the Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On” sample, I’ll expand on that,” Sting told Hines, who, apparently very impressed replied: @stinginternational maaad!! Need to hear those liner notes bro 😎 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽”.
After it was released in July 1995, Mr. Boombastic stormed to the top of the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and ascended to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song also rose to No. 1 in Australia, El Salvador, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK, as well as entered the top five in several other European countries.
Boombastic was also certified platinum in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, the UK, and the US, and sold gold in Austria, France, and Germany. So far it has more than 488 million streams.
Boombastic was the title track for Shaggy’s third studio album.
In addition to Boombastic, three other hits came from the album, The Train is Coming, a collab with Ken Boothe; a cover of Mungo and Jerry’s classic In the Summertime (featuring Rayvon) and Day Oh.
The album went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1996, ahead of Burning Spear’s Rasta Business, The Skatalites’ Hi-Bop Ska! The 30th Anniversary Recording; Third World’s Live it Up and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers’ Free Like We Want 2 B.
Also, in addition to Livingston, Tony Kelly and the late Bobby ‘Digital’ Dixon produced songs on the album.
Livingston and Shaggy, who had been introduced to each other by Sting International in 1993, ended what has been dubbed one of the most successful partnerships in Reggae/Dancehall history in 2011.
At the time, Livingston had just parted ways with Super Cat and had made it clear he was not very interested in signing anyone else.
However, he acquiesced and during the partnership between the two in the ensuing years, they released a slew of hits, including Oh Carolina and Boombastic and also scored platinum with the release of Shaggy’s Hot Shot album, which featured the mega hits It Wasn’t Me and Angel, which went to number one worldwide.
Back in 2019, Livingston had told The Gleaner newspaper that after eventually agreeing to sign Shaggy, he told the ex-soldier that he “wanted a 60-40 deal, because I was the one who would be making the investment”, adding that it was a reasonable deal as “many managers at that time, were signing 50-50 deals”.
The Gleaner had noted that after two decades of hard work, which saw Shaggy selling diamond and earning multiple international awards, “the relationships ended on the same note as that of Super Cat’s separation”.
“It hurt me to my heart to see that I build two monster acts and they don’t talk to me,” Livingston had lamented at the time.