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Shakin' with Shaggy

Reggae/dancehall/pop/hip-hop impresario Shaggy -- born Orville Richard Burrell, in Kingston, Jamaica -- has been cranking out the crossover hits for more than a decade. For whatever reason -- perhaps his perpetual clowning and elegant rogue's persona have something to do with it -- he has never quite grabbed ahold of the credibility that, based on the 10 million worldwide sales of his 2000 album "Hotshot" alone, is due him.

Like he cares. Late last year Shaggy dropped "Clothesdrop," and like all of his work, it seamlessly and creatively fused the reggae and dancehall twisted rap styles of his native Jamaica with an easy-to-love pop sensibility.

There's a Sly-and-Robbie underpinning to much of the work collected on the record, and beneath the sugary choruses and easily digestible hooks there is a rougher, darker persona in evidence. But mostly, Shaggy wants you to dance, to have fun, to surrender to the mood. The in-studio creativity, the willful blending of styles, the stubborn refusal to adhere to perceived boundaries -- all are subservient to the Shaggy mantra: Don't analyze, don't criticize, just come inside and let it ride.

Shaggy brings his good-time reggae/dancehall to the Avalon Ballroom, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, Ont., for shows Thursday and next Friday. Both evenings kick off at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $29.50 (Canadian funds), and can be found at the Avalon Ballroom box office or through Ticketmaster outlets.

-- Jeff Miers

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