It is hard to imagine what summer 2000 would’ve been like without Shaggy and RikRok’s monster hit single “It Wasn’t Me.” The song broke generational barriers to gain a stronghold in the minds and lips of both old and young, who could all utter the phrase “Wasn’t Me” by the end of the year. Fast forward 20 years later, and the song is still considered cool and relatable. How else could it have been drafted by snack giants Cheetos for a Super Bowl ad involving Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, and Shaggy himself?
Yet, it turns out that like all great things, “It Wasn’t Me” also has a very checkered past. In 2020 VICE released a documentary to which outlined that the song and the entire Hot Shot album almost didn’t make it off the label’s cutting floor. Shaggy, who had already proved his worth through his 1996 Grammy-winning album Boombastic, was signed to MCA Records at the time. Following the label’s thrashing, Shaggy proceeded to pass on what would later become the platinum-selling single “It Wasn’t Me” to other dancehall acts.
He was speaking to The Inside Edition when he recounted, “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.”
Aside from the “Everyone Falls In Love” duo, then legendary crooner Wayne Wonder and Notch from the Born Jamericans were also tapped to voice their versions of the song. All three of the proposed individuals were already major players on the dancehall circuit, yet it’s hard to imagine the track reaching the level that it did without Shaggy’s signature baritone vocals.
Shaggy’s breakthrough with his management team and label didn’t come until Hans Haedelt, a former MCA record senior director, heard the demo track by accident and predicted it would be a hit.
“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,” he remarked.
The addition of the track proved monumental to the success of the album, which also included other tracks such as “Luv Me, Luv Me,” “Dance & Shout,” “Hope,” “Angel” featuring Rayvon, “among others. A special UK release, as well as an Ultramix, followed the initial August 2000 release. The spread of the track went viral on radio, with Pablo Sato of Hawaii being one of the first deejay’s to establish the track as a must-play. Not long after, the album started to see sales of 500,000 weekly units, ultimately topping charts all over the world.
The track was accompanied by an equally hilarious, equally cutting edge music video directed by Stephen Scott. It featured some pretty cool gadgets of the day, such as pagers and a video door alarm system that predated Ring!” The storyline sees RikRok being caught cheating by his girlfriend. He approached Shaggy for consultation, who instructs him to deny every bit of it. The scenes from the clip have been remade by fans on numerous occasions over the last two decades.
Hot Shot has made Shaggy one of the biggest crossover acts in the last two decades. The philanthropic deejay celebrated the 20th anniversary in 2020 with the release of Hot Shot 2020. The latter sported a couple of retrofitted versions of the classics, as well as a few new releases. Shaggy still manages to remain relevant to this day, securing numerous performances on the international circuit. Peep his 2019 Grammy-winning album with Sting or his performances on numerous American morning shows for reference. He also recently dropped a pretty penny on a lush Florida dream house, effectively anchoring himself in the land of opportunity.
As for “It Wasn’t Me,” it should be interesting to hear Wayne Wonder’s and Tanto Metro and Devonte’s take on the song.