"Not enough time is put into the full production of Dancehall. The talent is there, but we have to look at the rest of the world as a marketplace as well, not just Jamaica. People should stop just trying to make a quick buck and develop the music. Then reggae can move forward again."1
One of the hottest young musical stars in the early 2000's, Sean Paul has officially blown up, and we're talking Death Star caliber explosivions here. His songs can be heard on any Urban Music/Hip Hop radio station the world over. Sean specializes in a style of music called Dancehall, which is a stlye that blends reggae, ragga, and hip hop. His vocal melodies push his songs, and easily slide over the riddims that keep the track moving.
Sean Paul Henriques was born on January 8, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. On his father's side is a Portuguese-Jamaican heritage, complete with legends of ancestors stealing horses from the Portuguese. His mother, a Chinese-Jamaican, is a well off painter in Jamaica. Sean Paul was bitten by the music bug on his thirteenth birthday, when he received a cheap, small keyboard. While he thought he could reproduce riddims similar to his icons at the time, Lt. Stitchie, Major Worries, and Supercat, music would remain only his hobby. He was schooled at Wolmer's and Hillel, before transfering to the higher-class Bel Air school. After high school. Sean Paul went to UTech to study commerce. At this point, his dreams were to manage a hotel, but his musical abilities would soon shine through.
While working at a bank in Kingston, Sean Paul hooked up with Jeremy Harding, a producer. The duo dropped a track called "Baby Girl" on Harding's 2 Hard Records label in 1996. Baby Girl started getting rotation in several clubs in the dancehall scene, and soon people wanted more Sean Paul. Four more singles were released, Nah Get No Bly, Deport Dem, Infiltrate and Excite Me solidified Sean Paul as a star in the scene. When people in clubs heard Sean Paul's drawled out "Duttyyeah" the dance floor quickly became flooded with people ready to shake, move and groove. Sean Paul's music traveled from the islands up into the corresponding ethnic areas in America's major cities, especially New York City.
"I'm still working on my career, still trying to learn from other artistes and develop my skills and my style. The world still hasn't seen the best of Sean Paul."1
The rest, as they say, is history. Sean dropped his first album, Stage One, on Jamaica's VP records record label. Stage One sold over 40,000 copies in America, according to SoundScan. Yet, it was the singles that that made the album shine. Hot Gal Today and Deport Dem both hit the Billboard charts at 66th and 88th place, respectively. Performances at New York's Hot 97 summer concert, as well as other east coast summer jam's got the attention of various record executives. Always looking for the next hot thing, Atlantic signed Sean Paul to their label, and began preparations for his follow up album.
Most Americans first experienced Sean Paul with the hit single from his sophomore album called Gimme The Light. A pot-laced, club anthem, Gimme The Light displayed Sean Paul's vocal talents and infectious riddims. A simple video on MTV featuring various scantily clad, dancing Jamaican beauties cemented Sean Paul as a part of American culture. The success of his following singles, Get Busy, and Like Glue, ensured Sean a spot in the limelight for a long time. The strength of this album comes from the simple rhythms of the beats, which, when combined with his crooning voice, create an undeniable, easily danceable, groove.
The Dutty Rock album gives a wonderful demonstration of Sean Paul's sound. The disc starts with an intro track where a British-sounding punk band "rehearses" a couple of the tracks from Sean Paul's first album. We're then led into a quality dancehall track, followed by the three singles from the album. This may cause one to think that the last half of the album would be sub-quality. The uniqueness of Sean Paul's Dutty style shines here. The songs, Can You Do The Work, International Affair and I'm still In Love With You, sound more reggae influenced than his other tracks. The beats provide all the Hip-Hop needed.
The success of both Stage One and Dutty Rock have opened the doors to Sean Paul, much like they were to another famous Jamaican, Bob Marley. While Marley's music related more to the hippie movement of the time, Sean Paul's music is tied to the club inhabited by Hip-Hoppers of all sorts. Sean Paul's music lacks the heart found in Marley's music, and also has a much more produced sound.
Since Sean Paul's sound is so unique, and attractive, to fans, he has been asked to do several guest spots on mainstream albums. One of the first times I heard Sean Paul was on Jay-Z's album, The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse. He guested on the song, What They Gonna Do. While he said very very little on the track, he has worked extensively with Busta Rhymes, who appears not only on Dutty Rock, but also has Sean Paul on two different remix tracks. Sean Paul has also collaborated with Rahzel, DMX, 50 Cent and Beyonce Knowles.
"It humbles me to know that I can get through as a DJ because I had the opportunity in life to do the bank thing. Some people can't get them life there. So me haffi give thanks for what I have and I try not to make anyone feel negative at all, because even the slightest thing can make someone feel negative. And positivity is something that always drives me and the music I create."2
Did You Know?
Sean Paul used to play Water Polo for the Jamaican National Team?
Sean Paul won a Doobie award for his single, Gimme The Light. The Doobie is a prize given out by High Times magazine.