The untold story of Shaggy’s song “It Wasn’t Me”

In 2000 Shaggy released one of his biggest it’s, “It Wasn’t Me”. A catchy dancehall-pop track with some verses by rapper Rikrok. The lyrics describe a man’s plea for advice from a friend when his girlfriend catches him in a compromising position with another woman. His friend’s answer is to deny all charges, despite clear evidence otherwise, with the repetitive phrase “It wasn’t me”.

But how did Shaggy come up with this story? ” My aim at the point was to write adult content without being explicit”, the singer told the New York Times in 2020. “Because we were thinking about Airplane. ‘Picture this, we were both butt naked banging on the bathroom floor.’ Pretty straight forward.”

However, “It Wasn’t Me” was actually inspired by an Eddie Murphy stand up bit called “No Loyal Men”, in his 1987 comedy special. In a February 2016 interview, Shaggy acknowledged similarities with the War song “Smile Happy”, a connection further supported by former One Direction member Liam Payne’s “Strip That Down” (a song also based on “It Wasn’t Me”), which credits both Shaggy and members of War as co songwriters, according to the Daily Mirror.

In fact, the song almost didn’t make it into the album: even Shaggy’s manager at the time, Robert Livingston, wanted to nix the song before it was sent to the record label. It was only when an A&R representative from MCA Records accidentally heard the song when several other producers went out to get food, that the artist gave the hit a second chance.

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