In 2000, Jamaican-American reggae act Shaggy had a mainstream crossover hit with his iconic track ‘It Wasn’t Me’. With verses rapped by Rikrok, and a catchy chorus, the song was a hit and an international success, debuting at number one in the US, UK, Ireland, France and The Netherlands, just to name a few.
‘It Wasn’t Me’ tells the story of a man desperately seeking advice from a friend after his girlfriend catches him cheating (more specifically, on the bathroom floor, sofa, shower and various other household locations) with another woman. The friend’s suggestion is to tell the girlfriend, “It wasn’t me”, hence the name of the hit.
In a 2020 interview, two decades after the track’s release, Shaggy spoke with The New York Times and, during the interview, even unveiled the reason he wrote the song. Revealing his intentions while writing the track, Shaggy explained, “My aim at the point was to write adult content without being explicit.”
He continued, unveiling that ‘It Wasn’t Me’ was actually inspired by an Eddie Murphy stand-up sketch called ‘No Loyal Men,’ from his 1987 comedy special. With a background in Jamaican dancehall, which is highly explicit, writing about adult content in a non-explicit way would have undoubtedly been a creative challenge for the singer.
Shaggy went even further as he delved into the history of his most successful hit, disclosing that it was nearly not released. According to Shaggy, his manager at the time, Robert Livingston, was planning on pulling the track from his album before it was sent to the record label. However, an A&R from Shaggy’s record label heard it before Livingston had the chance to pull and gave it the green light.
Strangely enough, the track wasn’t an immediate hit when the album was released. In fact, the album didn’t get much recognition from the US market until it got played by a Hawaiian DJ who had illegally downloaded the album from a file-sharing website.
Ever since, the track has been a classic and is still Shaggy’s highest-selling record to this day. The track reached number one in over eight countries worldwide and was the UK’s best-selling single of 2001. Furthermore, the track is certified platinum in the US and triple platinum in the UK. You can listen to the track in the video below.