Rock legend Sting has labelled the phrase ‘cultural appropriation’ as “ugly”, following criticism of his new reggae collaboration album with Jamaican musician Shaggy.

The two artists’ musical bromance has raised more than its fair share of eyebrows since the album, titled 44/876 (after the respective international dialling codes for Britain and Jamaica), was announced a few months back. Some have questioned whether such a project constitutes cultural appropriation on the part of Sting, a white singer.

“It's such an ugly term,” the former frontman of The Police told the BBC in a new interview on Wednesday (April 18th).

StingSting spoke about his new collaboration album with Shaggy

“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.”

‘Cultural appropriation’ is a sociological term to describe the adoption of elements of an ethnic minority’s culture by members of a more dominant one. But Sting dismisses this argument, saying that his work with 'Mr Boombastic' singer Shaggy was forged over “common ground”.

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“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.”

ShaggyShaggy pictured in 2017

The unlikely collaboration album came about when Shaggy's producer, Martin Kierszenbaum, who also happens to be Sting's manager, sent the British star an unfinished song called ‘Don't Make Me Wait’, asking if he'd sing the chorus. Six weeks later, not only had the track been completed, but also an entire LP.

“It's a total accident, but we're very happy,” explained Sting. “Everyone who heard about it said 'Oh, what a surprise,' and actually that's the most important element in all music - surprise.”

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