No one should be surprised really that Shaggy’s idea of the perfect track to represent Jamaica in the year of our Golden Jubilee is an anthemic, get-up-and-dance party jam. Mr. Boombastic has always had a thing for high-energy fanfare.
So when the Jamaica 50 Secretariat tapped the Grammy-winning megastar to produce the official Jamaica 50 theme song (to get Jamaicans in the mood for celebration and to motivate our London-bound Olympic hopefuls), he came up with “On A Mission,” an exuberant, pulsating four-minute single packed with star cameos and no shortage of Jamrock-style vigour – and regular references to our resourcefulness and countless achievements as a nation.
But after a few listens, for me it’s not the memorable gem I was anticipating. Still, for what it is, it’s a laudable effort that should find favour with its (obviously) youthful target audience.
On the surface, what “On a Mission” captures unequivocally is the spirit of the digital, futuristic-leaning age we now live in. Not old-school Jamdung. Consequently, those mature listeners who were expecting a vintage, “authentic Jamaican roots” flavour will be disappointed.
On the upside, while the track is devoid of all nostalgic appeal, it does boast an impressive mix of real Jamaican performers – icons (Beres Hammond, Chevelle Franklin, Shaggy), young veterans (Damian Marley, Tarrus Riley) and future legends (Romain Virgo, Tifa, Wayne Marshall, Tessanne) – who each make their own solid contributions.
In the end, in spite of its thumping foreign beat (a techno-pop vibe) and clichéd command to “jump jump,” what “On a Mission” has going for it is an endlessly youthful joie de vivre and palpable pride in being Jamaican. But what is perhaps Shaggy and company’s most notable achievement here is shining the spotlight on the road ahead for Jamaica while encouraging us to fully celebrate this Jubilee moment.
>> Listen to the song below and decide for yourself: