It almost wasn’t Shaggy.
About 21 years ago, the dancehall singer tried to give away his song, “It Wasn’t Me,” to another recording artist because at the time, no one wanted Shaggy to do it.
“There’s a group called Tanto Metro and Devonte. I gave it to them when my manager didn't want me to do it. And they recorded it,” Shaggy told Inside Edition Digital over Zoom while promoting his Cheetos Super Bowl commercial.
“I had Notch from the Born Jamericans also record it. I had Wayne Wonder who gave you ‘No Letting Go’ actually voice those songs. I believed in it that much, that I was trying to give it to somebody. It ended up coming right back to me when [director of the record label A&R] Hans [Haedelt] [heard it] and said, ‘Hey, I think this is a hit.’ And I'm like, ‘Man, this is what we've been trying to tell him.’”
Shaggy wrote the song two decades ago after being inspired by an Eddie Murphy joke in a comedy special, penning what would become a classic at a time when Britney Spears and ‘NSYNC dominated the charts and the airwaves. As a result, Shaggy’s music style struggled to be taken seriously.
“Record companies never know what to do with me because I'm a little outside the box,” the singer, born Orville Richard Burrell, told Inside Edition Digital.
The song was originally part of the album, “Hot Shot,” released in August 2000. According to Dance Hall Mag, Shaggy’s manager wanted it pulled from the album because he didn’t like it. Then, Hedelt accidentally heard it and requested it be put back in, according to a documentary on VICE. It wasn’t released as a single until someone illegally downloaded it from the album and in turn, made the song go viral.
Who would have predicted “It Wasn’t Me” would blow up the way it did? The song, which also features RikRok’s vocals, is regularly parodied and recently transformed into a viral TikTok dance challenge.
“No one could really have guessed the magnitude of it and where it has gone,” said Shaggy. “I just try to write these little catchy anthems, and for the most part, they always work for me. When ‘Oh Carolina’ came out, there was nothing on the radio that sounded like it. When ‘Mr. Boombastic’ was out, there's nothing on the radio [that] sounded like it.”
Now Shaggy’s hit song is poised to reach new heights yet again as it’s part of this year’s Super Bowl commercial lineup. The commercial pays tribute to the 20th anniversary of the single’s Feb. 6, 2001 release. Cheetos reached out to Shaggy about using “It Wasn’t Me” in a commercial, Shaggy said, noting he didn’t at first realize it was for the Super Bowl.
“Once I found that out, I was very, very excited,” Shaggy exclaimed. “Then of course, what we witnessed last Sunday with Tom Brady; I think this will probably be one of the most watched, if not the most watched, Super Bowl, ever.”
The commercial begins with Ashton Kutcher asking his wife, Mila Kunis, “Did you steal my Cheetos again?” Kunis, holding a bag of Cheetos with her face and hands covered in orange Cheetos dust, struggles to explain herself. So, she turns to look at Shaggy, who is sitting in a chair as he advises her, “Tell him it wasn’t you.”
“But I caught you at the counter!” Kutcher then sings. “Wasn’t me,” Kunis replies while tossing the snack out the kitchen sink window. “Saw you snacking on the sofa,” “You even had them in the shower,” and “I even caught you on camera,” are some of the re-written lyrics for the ad.
“He’s certainly not a singer, but he tried to hold a note,” Shaggy said of Kutcher’s rendition. “I think that's also what added to the chemistry and the humor of the commercial, is him trying to hold the note.
“I have a feeling that the director really wanted that kind of vibe -- of a guy that really just can't sing --- and he's just expressing himself,” Shaggy continued, noting he didn’t coach Kutcher on his performance. “So, it was great.”
And watching Kutcher and Kunis film was an acting class in itself, Shaggy said.
“I was just a student,” he said. “I sat there and just soaked it up. I could see chemistry-wise why they are married. I just sat there and was in the middle of their synergy and it came right out on this commercial.”
Shaggy’s been spending time writing re-mixes for the Super Bowl, including one with Chester Cheetos himself, who’s “got bars.”
When things return back to normal, the first thing he wants to do is start touring again. And of course, fans can count on “It Wasn’t Me” being included in the lineup.