By Stephanie Amy Collazo
Jamaican dancehall superstar Sean Paul may have been temporarily put out of the touring circuit due to a knee surgery earlier this year, but now he is back and better than ever. While on hiatus he took time to work on tracks with Kelly Rowland and Alexis Jordan, as well as produce a number of tracks with artists based in Jamaica. His new album, which will hopefully come out later in 2011, is promising to bring a sound unlike anything we’ve heard from Sean Paul in the past. For this album, he has collaborated with numerous international producers who have added their perspective on dancehall to the mix, and we can only wait and listen for what will come next.
YRB: How did you get your start in music?
Sean Paul: Really just loving music, trying to write rhymes myself and going to different studios in Jamaica. I produced my first single here in 1996; I put out a lot of different little works and my first album came out in 2001. So in that time, from 1995, I was just putting out Jamaican singles, doing small tours and getting introduced to the business. I would do small barbeques and small dances in Jamaica, and by about 1997, I was able to go to territories in America like New York and Miami that were jam-packed with Jamaicans and do small shows. Then in 2001-2002 I started to break [out] more internationally. It lead to a song called “Gimme The Light,” which is one of the biggest introductions that I think anyone could ask for into the international music world.
YRB: How has your music progressed since the release of your first album, Stage One?
Sean Paul: I think I’ve progressed in terms of stage presence. In terms of production, my music has progressed with the advance of all the new programs and computers that allow people to manipulate sound and make music [for] themselves. I think I’ve also progressed in terms of becoming a more mature person. My outlook on the business is different, where before it was always just about partying and girls, and now my lyrics are more serious and I am more mature in terms of the way I think about it, actually.
YRB: Recently you embarked on your first tour in eight months. Why did you decide to tour Europe instead of the States? Do you have plans to tour the States at all?
Sean Paul: My show is basically huge right now. The band has four members, most of the time I take four dancers on the road, a lighting engineer, [and] I have two different sound engineers, so that cost a lot. When you’re not on the television or the radio in the United States as much, or with current songs, there is a difference in the price and Europe and Africa seem to be places that would like to pay for the whole thing to happen. That’s where I’m at – I like to perform, [and] I like to present to people the musical presentation that we put together. There [are] promoters that call from certain parts of the States and they just want me and a DJ, no dancers, just to do five songs. I have a repertoire, which can last for almost two hours on stage with a band and dancers, so that’s what I really try to go for. A lot of times the tours in the States are not offering that to me, like the House of Blues tours, but those have been the more successful ones that I have done in the past couple of years in the States. I’ve been doing one or two dates here and there [in the U.S.], but when the single picks up – the first single from the album is called “Got To Love You” featuring Alexis Jordan – I’m figuring that’s going to be a lot more promotion in terms of people seeing me [and] hearing me. So it’s going to be a better touring schedule.
YRB: How have fans reacted to your new single “Gal A Bawl For More?”
Sean Paul: Actually, I’m on Twitter a lot and they’re really reacting very well. A lot of people have said on Twitter [that] ‘It’s very catchy,’ ‘I want to hear it on the radio right now,’ ‘I love this, Sean Paul is back,’ but I never went anywhere so I don’t know what the hell they are saying. But yeah, it’s a good feeling to get so much energy from one single. Every time something is received with this amount of energy it feels good.
YRB: When’s the next album dropping?
Sean Paul: I would like to have it out by the end of this year. In February, I [had] a knee operation and it slowed me down on the touring, but I’ve been able to do a lot more studio work since then. I’m trying to have it out by the end of this year; I definitely have enough work.
YRB: What should we expect from the next album?
Sean Paul: It’s shaping up to be a more internationally produced album. I’m trying to get these international producers who are on top of their game right now and on top of the music world right now. [Producers] who produce dancehall from their perspective. You can expect for this album to sound a lot more pop sounding. It is a direction I have barely gone before in terms of production for my album, so it’s definitely a different sound. It’s going to be a good look. It’s still party music, that’s where I come from with music, that’s what I do.
YRB: Have you collaborated with any artists on the new project?
Sean Paul: I did two tracks with Stargate, one featuring Alexis Jordan, which is “Got 2 Love U,” another one featuring Kelly Rowland, which is going to come out after that. I’ve done a track with Akon. I’ve done a track with DJ Amo, who is a dance producer, [he] produced Black Eyed Peas’ “Dirty Bit.”
YRB: You’ve recently started producing music, what made you decide to try the other side of the business?
Sean Paul: I’ve always been interested, before I even became an artist I had a little keyboard, I [would] mess around making other people beats. I never really produced anything or recorded anything that I did until the early 2000s, but it wasn’t me that did the rhythm, I was just executive producer. From the last album I had a song called “I Know U Like It,” and that song was produced by myself, I actually learned how to manage my computer and make music from it. My producers and management thought, ‘Hey, we’ll put the track on the album’ and it was received pretty well. A lot of people that know that I did that track gave me a lot of love for it. So I decided to do more and more tracks, not just record myself but record other people out there, other Jamaican artists. My first rhythm is called “Blaze Fire Rhythm.” It’s out right now in Jamaica [and] I’m going to put it out on iTunes pretty soon. I have another rhythm that’s on the way and it features myself and other Jamaican artists that continue to do their thing year after year. I think that by me producing them it can add a different side to my career and it can add some attention to their own, too.