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'It Wasn't Me' at 20: Shaggy explains origin of cheating anthem, surprising response from women and new Super Bowl ad

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
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It has been 20 years since Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” burned up the charts — and you’ll be hearing a new twist on the dancehall crossover hit during this Sunday’s Super Bowl. The reggae artist teamed with acting couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to update the track for a Cheetos commercial that will air during the Chiefs-Buccaneers matchup. (You can preview it below.)

In a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Shaggy talked about the origins of “It Wasn’t Me,” which was inspired by an Eddie Murphy routine in his comedy special Raw.

“I just thought it was great, I thought it was very relatable,” he said (watch above). “Whether you’re young, old, Black, white, straight, gay, it was relatable. And there’s always a little bit of humor in my music. … It was a great record and a fun vibe and it just kind of took off.”

It sure did. “It Wasn’t Me” marked his the Kingston, Jamaica, native’s first No. 1 hit in the U.S., and also ruled the charts in Australia, France, Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The song, which features an infectious hook from RikRok, is set around a conversation between two men — one who has just been caught cheating, and the friend who tells him that, despite the fact that he’s literally seen in the act, should just deny it was him.

Even if it’s meant to be playful, it’s still something of an infidelity anthem. “When we put the record out, we were getting a lot of hate from women’s groups and what not,” Shaggy said. “But after a while when we looked at the sales, it was predominantly women that bough the record.” (It may have helped that Shaggy’s second single off that 2000 album Hot Shot was the love ballad “Angel.”)

“It Wasn’t Me” is also the rare pop hit in which most listeners would admit they don’t know all the lyrics. While RikRok’s sing-songy hook gets crooned along to on dance floors, Shaggy’s forceful, thickly accented dancehall patois isn’t nearly as clear.

“That’s the beauty of the song, man. It’ll make you go back and start playing it over and over and over again so that you can get into it” Shaggy said. “You have to have that authenticity of dancehall. That’s the culture on the song there itself, me going in there raw patois, and having you play it over a couple times just to get what I’m saying.”

The Grammy winner jumped at the chance to work with Kutcher and Kunis for the Cheetos ad.

“You could see why they’re a couple,” he said. “The chemistry between them is amazing. At that moment you realize why That 70s Show was such an amazing hit, and they brought that same sauce to this commercial. This is a guy that married his best friend. You could tell, chemistry-wise, that it worked really well. They were laughing constantly, totally cracking each other up. I was just there like a sponge, I was like a student, because I’m in their arena.”

As for Kutcher’s singing ability?

“Ashton did his thing, I’m about to give him a contract,” he laughed. “I might need a collab!”

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by Val Volpacchio.

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