For millennials, Shaggy’s infectious 2000 hit, « It Wasn’t Me, » was one of those tracks we all belted out, some of us too young to understand the context of the raunchy lyricism. The song wasn’t even supposed to be a single, accidentally finding fame through illegal downloads. As Shaggy told USA Today (via the Honolulu Advertiser) at the time, « This is probably the only time in my life that I will like Napster. Some kid on the radio station in Hawaii took it and put it on the radio, and the phones lit up. »
The rest was history. The song was a cultural phenomenon, and even the phrase, « Shaggy defense » was coined as a legal strategy — when a defendant denies they were the ones committing an alleged act.
It wasn’t just that one hit that kept the Kingston-born artist busy, however, as he already had major hits such as « Boombastic » and « Oh Carolina » under his belt, too. So, has he disappeared from the spotlight? Not quite. « I’ve been offered … my own television show, movies… I’ve turned most of them down, » Shaggy revealed to the Daily Mail. « Throughout my career, I’ve been very very keen about protecting my brand … It has to make sense. » He’s certainly been doing a lot that makes sense – the rest of us just have to look hard enough. Here’s the untold truth of Shaggy.
Shaggy egged Ariel on to ‘kiss the girl’
The more you think about it, Shaggy really was the perfect artist to cast as Sebastian, The Little Mermaid‘s jovial Caribbean crab. The singer took over the role in November 2019 when he starred in ABC’s telecast of The Little Mermaid Live, joining the stage with Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel and Queen Latifa starring as Ursula.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Boombtastic nailed it, performing « two of the night’s showstoppers. » As for the rest of the show? The public was divided. USA Today dubbed it « a poorly-executed mashup of the 1989 animated film, » while other critics were too disgruntled by something else to pay attention to the show itself: mainly, Shaggy’s claws, or lack thereof. According to the Daily Mail, viewers took to social media to ponder why the crab had regular hands. It was so discussed, in fact, that ABC exec Rob Mills had to post a photo of the aughts hitmaker in rehearsal, with the claw mitts on. « For those wondering, Shaggy wore crab claws in early rehearsals and it looked ridiculous, » Mills later tweeted. To be fair, it did.
Regardless of the crab claws, the performance brought a lot of publicity to Shaggy for a younger audience who doesn’t know who the singer is. HollywoodLife, for example, decided to jog everyone’s memory and post an article all about the reggae crooner, detailing his chart-topping dominance of the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Shaggy isn’t afraid to get political
Shaggy is known to be a genre-fluid artist. The mainstream loves him so much, in fact, that even All Music points out that he’s had « the biggest crossover success in the dancehall reggae scene of the 1990s. » Even in recent years, he’s still performing with mainstream heavy-hitters. At the end of November 2019, the Jamaican-born artist jetted off to Saudi Arabia alongside Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Tyga, and Future to perform at the Diriyah Music Festival, as revealed by TheNational.ae.
However, performing in Saudi Arabia has been met with controversy throughout the years. Per the Daily Mail, Islamic State terrorists threatened to bomb a Mariah Carey concert in January of 2019 as extremists viewed the event as « un-Islamic, » while Nicki Minaj pulled out of performing at a festival in July of the same year, « citing her support for women and the LGBT community, » as noted by The Guardian.
Nevertheless, Shaggy still performed. While he sang some of his greatest hits, he took to Instagram to say that singing his 2002 single, « Strength of a Woman » was his highlight. « It was so amazing singing this song last night in Saudi Arabia .. very empowering’ well-received by all … women recently were granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia a lot is changing, proud to be a part of it. » While some of the aforementioned artists understandably didn’t feel comfortable performing, it’s commendable that Shaggy attempted to send a positive message to his fans.
Did the Mystery Gang inspire Shaggy’s stage name?
Are any of us surprised that Shaggy would somehow be involved in the Scooby-Doo franchise? It seems like an obvious collaboration, but most of us have forgotten that the « Angel » crooner actually recorded a track for the live-action movie based on the popular Scooby-Doo series. So, what song did he sing? « Shaggy, Where Are You, » of course.
As it turns out, his stage name may or may not have something to do with Scooby-Doo‘s Shaggy character, too. According to The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Caribbean Studies (via Caribbean Life), it’s said that the reggae star took his name « from the character Shaggy, from the TV show Scooby-Doo. »
But in an interview with the Daily Bruin, however, Shaggy had a bit more of a cheeky story to tell. « I was born and raised in Jamaica, and my friends gave me the nickname because of my shaggy hair … I reminded them of a shaggy dog, » he revealed, adding, « I later went to London and found out it meant something else entirely. It made me popular with the ladies. »
It wasn’t Shaggy
Being around in the music industry for as long as he has, Shaggy has a certain longevity about him that can only be attributed to marching to the beat of his own drum. « We were in a Britney Spears and N*SYNC kind of world at the time, » the singer reminisces to Vice regarding his early time dominating the charts. « I decided to just do Shaggy. I’ve always gone against the grain of things. » Of course, not everybody has always been a Shaggy fan. « Dancehall is now very popular, but when I did it, I was criticized for selling out, » he explained, adding, « Dudes don’t like me as much as the chicks do. Dudes like me because the chicks like me. »
As it turns out, someone definitely wasn’t a Shaggy fan in 2019, as, according to Complex, the « Oh Carolina » crooner took to Instagram to warn his fans about a fraud going around online. Um, what? As Complex dished, a scammer was posing as the singer and « hitting up fans to tell them they somehow owe this faux Shaggy money. »
In Shaggy’s original warning to his fans, he wrote, « They are not from me nor do they represent me in any way. It saddens me that this has become our reality and that innocent people are being dragged into this ridiculousness. » We’re thinking what you’re thinking, and surprisingly enough, not once did he write, « It wasn’t me. »
An adorably odd duo
Lo and behold the oddest celebrity pairing since Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. In 2018, Shaggy and Sting released their joint album, 44/876 — and they « know you’re confused » about it, according to Forbes, who spoke with the duo in June 2018. « I like the surprise that it had engendered when we first announced our engagement, » Sting told the outlet alongside his unlikely musical pal, who added, « I like the look on people’s faces. »
It’s an odd story, but it’s definitely adorable. According to Rolling Stone, the their worlds collided when Sting’s manager, Martin Kierszenbaum (Shaggy’s A&R guy in the ’90s), just so happened to send Sting an unfinished song by the Kingston-born artist, « Don’t Make Me Wait. » Surprisingly enough, the Police alum wasted no time, suddenly walking into Shaggy’s studio, singing the hook of the track. « I sang on the chorus, and then we tried to figure out a way to make it more of me than just a chorus, » dished Sting to the mag. They released their album together on April 20, 2018 (funny, we know), and took home a Grammy for Best Reggae Album in February of 2019.
What’s even better is that along with becoming musical collaborators, they became good friends, too. As Sting joked to Rolling Stone, the two are close « against all odds. » Although their music may not be for everybody, there’s just something endearing about watching these two legends look like they’re genuinely having the time of their lives.
Shaggy is proud of where he’s been and where he’s going
Shaggy shows no signs of retiring — even though he’s been making music for over two decades, as of this writing. Although his most recent 2019 album, Wah Gwaan?! isn’t necessarily his most commercially successful release, he believes it’s his most important one.
As Vibe noted during an interview with the star, it’s his « first unaccompanied project in six years, and … it’s one of the most personal albums of his nearly 30-year career. » So, how come? « I got to a space where I almost started to be a little insecure, because your age is up there, and people around you are like ‘Oh, you’re not as cool anymore,' » Shaggy dished, admitting he started to doubt his talent. Suddenly realizing he wanted his newest album « to be a culmination of his professional and personal experiences, » he then explained, « There was a lot that happened in my life, especially within the last year … A lot has changed since then, so that’s what I wanted to do. »
During an interview with Brag Media’s Tone Deaf blog, Shaggy was asked how he feels about people remembering him for his ’90s and early 2000s hits. The verdict? « I’m glad. I’m really amazed that I wrote such amazing songs, and that I wrote such amazing songs still, » he gushed. « Those were some of my biggest albums … I tried my best to write classic music. It really is classic music. »
People weren’t quick to see Shaggy as a reggae artist
When Shaggy first hit the scene in the early ’90s with « Oh Carolina, » he was brushed off as being too mainstream. « I’ve always been faced with all kinds of criticism, » he explained to Fader in 2014. « People were saying, ‘Oh, Shaggy is pop, he can’t do dancehall,’ even though I came from dancehall. I left pop music because I had situations that weren’t working in my favor. I had a management that I wasn’t happy with, and my record company, MCA, had shut down. »
Nevertheless, the singer kept doing what he wanted to do. « I’m the only one in dancehall that’s been able to go from dancehall to pop, then back to dancehall, and then to reggae — while still being successful in all of them, » he told Vice in 2016.
So, at the end of the day, what sort of artist does Shaggy see himself as? Stuff.co.nz asked him the same question. « I’m a reggae singer, » he simply stated. « What I do is reggae. I just do it in a different way … You’ve got to remember now, everything evolves from reggae — hip-hop was also the birthchild of reggae music. Right? Kool Herc brought it from Jamaica and played it in the Bronx, and that was the birth of hip-hop. It’s the first music and it is the last music. »
Shaggy had a weird beef with Cardi B
Shaggy doesn’t only work with established legends like Sting, he also collaborates with lesser-known artists, too. As it turns out, he once did a track with the then-unknown Cardi B!
Although it wasn’t directly revealed, it looks like the duo may have gotten off to a rocky start. As Shaggy explained to Vibe, he worked with a « young » and « hungry » Cardi, and was supposed to release a song with her that « was pulled due to issues between the parties involved. » As Shaggy then dished, « I’d rather pull the damn record than go through all of that s**t. [Cardi] had something about her that was dope, and she sounded great on the track … I saw her a couple of times [afterwards], I just saw her at the Grammys again, so it was cool. She’s amazing. » Hmm, it’s unclear what happened, but it’s great to know there’s no bad blood between the two.
Shaggy reiterated the same sentiment while speaking to The Breakfast Club, saying that « the record was out, » but after a disagreement over « creative differences, » he « pulled it » when things « started to get a little uncomfortable. » Vague shade aside, he did also say, « I love Cardi … she didn’t have Bodak Yellow [at the time] … I just thought there was something about her that was great. » It turns out, Shaggy was right about Cardi B, and the remix of that very track, « Boom Boom, » was technically the first song she ever released.
The reason Shaggy started making music isn’t too deep
If listening to the lyrics of « It Wasn’t Me » wasn’t enough, here’s another groundbreaking revelation for you: Shaggy got into music for women. « I was making a lot of money. What’s on your mind when you’re 19 and 20 years old? Chicks, » the Boombtastic crooner bluntly told The Sun. « That’s the reason I got into music. You sing songs, you get into clubs for free, you leave with the hottest chick. And that was my life in the earlier days. » Well, you can’t really blame him for his honesty.
So, have things changed now that he’s older and wiser? Absolutely. For starters, he’s not single anymore, having married his long term girlfriend Rebecca Parker in 2014. Even better, Shaggy credits Parker for helping him on his musical journey. When People asked the Jamaican star who he had to thank for his career, Shaggy gushed, « My wife. She’s my partner in crime, she’s my best friend, and my biggest supporter. » Aww!
It looks like Parker has had a significant impact on the way he views women, too. When he talks about the opposite gender nowadays, Shaggy sounds a lot less shallow. Speaking to the Independent, he declared, « I love women, I love what they stand for, their beauty, and that they’re passionate about things. »
Shaggy has interesting ideas for world peace
As you’ve probably guessed, Shaggy’s got a pretty relaxed idea of how he thinks the world should be run. « I just think war is a last resort. Everyone is quick to pull the trigger and as soon as they pull the trigger there’s casualties, » the « Angel » singer dished to the Daily Mail, adding, « But weed smokers never really — ever seen a weed smoker fight? They don’t, they just eat a lot. » Fair enough.
In fact, Shaggy even has his own experience on the battlefield. As the Daily Mail revealed, before becoming a musical sensation, Shaggy actually enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He spoke about it in more detail during an interview with Vice in 2016, hilariously detailing his reasoning behind joining. « The Navy wore blouses and ugly-a** bell bottoms, but I thought I could get laid in the Marines uniform, so I went with that one. » Oh, Shaggy. « I didn’t know the Marines were so hard, though … Being talented is one thing, but I couldn’t have made it this far in music without being disciplined in the military … It instills something in you. »
Years later, during a Veterans Day dinner in Boston in 2019 (via CNW), Shaggy was still quick to thank the Marines, declaring, « My military experience helped shape me into the person that I am today. »
Shaggy is one of the richest reggae artists alive
As successful as Shaggy is, he sometimes feels like the public doesn’t exactly take him seriously. « I’m ‘conveniently reggae.’ Let me explain that, » he said to The Guardian, sighing. « When dancehall has got its shine, there have been people who have dubbed me ‘not quite dancehall.’ Whenever people want this type of music to be in Madison Square Garden, the big bosses ask about the music’s homophobia, sex and violence reputation, and the promoters will say: ‘That’s not true, look at Shaggy.’ But when it’s time to say, ‘Look what reggae has done,’ and acknowledge the people who have been influential, then I’m conveniently not reggae. »
What’s interesting is that, for an artist that isn’t considered reggae by some, he’s one of the genre’s most successful artists. As The Guardian notes, his 2001 album, Hot Shot, made over $10 million, and as Shaggy himself revealed to Us Weekly, « I’m the only [living] certified diamond-selling reggae artist. » Perhaps it’s time that the public takes heed.
In fact, the « You Girl » singer has made so much money, he enjoys giving back, too. As he proudly told Us Weekly, « I’ve raised millions of dollars for the Bustamante Hospital for Children — the only children’s hospital in the English-speaking nations of the Caribbean — through my charity, Shaggy and Friends. »
Mr. Luva Luva has matured since his early mainstream success
Shaggy wants you to know he’s certainly not the same guy who got his claim to fame crooning about infidelity. In fact, his most recent songs are the total opposite.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the original Mr. Luva Luva offered up some insight into his 2019 single, « You, » and how it differs from his past library of hits. « This is all about focusing on that one person who has caught your eye and you feel is your soulmate, » he explained before grinning and adding, « It may be the anti ‘It Wasn’t Me.' »
At the same time, Shaggy is fully aware he wants his music to age « gracefully, » and still wants to be known for his iconic and more playful side. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, he explains his secret formula: « You don’t want to take it too crazy or too seriously and some fans will be like, ‘I get that, Shaggy, I get that. But I just want to listen to you and forget my problems’ … You still got to have that entertainment aspect. » Considering he’s still successfully touring the globe and releasing albums, we’d say he’s struck a perfect balance.