Think of music in the Noughties and chances are Kingston born Sean Paul is one of the musicians who comes to mind. With collaborations with the likes of Beyonce and Sia over the years, he is one of the most celebrated artists out there. Here's what he had to say when The Idle Man caught up with him at Southampton's Common People Festival.
Back in 2000 Jamaican-born Sean Paul released his debut album Stage One, which was closely followed by the international chart-topping Dutty Rock. His second album won him the Reggae Album Of The Year at the 46th Grammy Awards and he was destined for superstar status. 'Get Busy', the lead track from the album, topped the Billboard Hot 100 and he featured on tracks with Beyonce and Blu Cantrell - both of which were two of the most popular songs of the early Noughties.
It was in 2005 that he really garnered the most attention, largely thanks to his third album Trinity. Hit songs such as 'Temperature', 'Gonna Give It Up To Me' and 'Blazin' sent him soaring up the charts and he was officially one of the best male performing artists in the world. He was nominated for four Billboard Music Awards and won an American Music Award, beating Kanye West.
Since he has released 3 further albums (Imperial Blaze, Tomahawk Technique and Full Frequency) and has won a string of awards, including seeing success at the MOBOs and the MTV Video Music Awards.
We sat down with Paul post set at Common People Southampton to discuss his career and life over the past 17 years. Here's what he had to say.
What’s the best/most favourite collaboration that you’ve ever done?
I don’t have a favourite one I just like doing what I do - I give thanks for all of them, you know, straight. I don’t have a favourite one no.
What, in your opinion, has beeen your best song?
I don’t think I have a best song, my career is something that I love to do so I don’t want to say that this one is better than that. I feel enthused every time I go to the studio, every time I’m on stage. If it was up to me I'd put every song out, and put videos to all of them but you know economically that’s weird, it’s hard to do. So for me no favourite song, no favourite producer, I just love music, from a kid I always have done.
Obviously you’re reggae, do you think Jamaica gets enough credit musically for the influence it has on the music world, for example, Drake 'Controlla'
Yeah, I think that we can’t stop people from doing our music just like if I do a pop orientated single but what I don’t like about people who do dancehall nowadays is that they don’t say, hey this is me, this is my new single and it’s a dancehall single or a dancehall orientated single. They say this is my new single, so kids are gonna be like ten years old and not know what that is. So they think it’s his song and it’s not it comes from Jamaica.
I didn’t invent it either it was just us living together and Jamaicans doing what they do. It’s just that influence, New Orleans you got that certain flavour, Liverpool has its flavour. I mean Jamaica has its flavour and no I don’t think that enough people give us enough credit. Cause if I do a hip hop song with Migos, I say, I said it on the stage tonight this is the fusion, I didn’t say this is my single.
That’s all I’m saying but honestly it’s a good feeling to know that people love it so much that they see either money in it or just vibes in it, or just want to get a hit out of it. It’s beautiful - its good music. It’s really in at the moment so big up Ed Sheeran - that’s a dancehall influenced single to me. Big up Shawn Mendes, people like that, he has a song that’s dancehall influenced. There’s a lot of them, Rihanna, as you said Drake. Big up to all of them.
What do you think of the music industry at the moment?
The music industry is different to when I first started. It was based on 24 tracks, there was no Twitter, there was no Facebook, no Myspace, none of that. You had to get on radio.
Nowadays there are a lot of people who make stuff from their room. You know like Moby - he was one of the first to do that and make a song where he didn’t go to the studio and it broke worldwide and everybody was like, woah that’s crazy, that’s amazing. That was years ago and now a lot more people are doing it but they aren't as experienced as he was. They aren't as talented a musician and so I think that sometimes the quality of stuff that people are putting out on these formats is really low.
It’s unfortunate that people like Chris Brown are demonised, he went through a bad patch, but he is like a Michael Jackson to me - he's very talented. It's not just Instagram or what everybody’s talking about him, that’s not the only thing - he has more substance to me. For people like him just being crowded with the rest of people who are doing their thing and coming out there, it’s not bad, but the quality drops a little.
There are some people that are gonna break through like Macklemore. He came with simple concepts which most hip hop artists ain't talking about and it just broke through. So there’s some shit that’s gonna break through and shine, and stuff that is just some shit. [laughs]
Do you think your position as an artist should be used to highlight the current political climate?
It depends how you feel or the situation. Last night I posted a post for a friend of mine who I’ve not seen for years but I heard he's in hospital and I was like yo this post is to say go and give blood in the hospital in Jamaica. It’s not for political reason that I use and then I use it for. It's important to save lives so I support causes - I never get political but I don’t think that people shouldn’t.
There’s a lot of artists in my genre that say im not a role model, but I never signed up to be a role model. but you are influence, you learn from people. Everybody must self-express but it takes a village to grow a kid. So I believe that if you do feel politically inclined say it, but for people to not say nothing at all, I’ve seen artists who’re like that.
I am here to party, have fun and make money but also, if there's something out there like, there was fires burning in Jamaica at one point which I was very vocal about. If you think about we have the world’s fastest athletes and they were burning the garbage dump and it looked like a nuclear bomb in the air. I was like that’s fucked up - I got asthma.
Yeah. So a lot of people got asthma during those weeks when the thing was burning up and the government wouldn’t clean it up so I posted it and I was like 'fuck ya'll this is bullshit'. So I will be political when I feel like it. I mean I don’t wanna talk about Trump every day - I'm not the daily show, yano.
Last question. Is there anyone in the world that you would collaborate with if you could?
Yeah, I can say that I like music enough that I would do songs with people who don’t have a big name. What I can say also I’ve done work with Shakira this year and she’s amazing and that’s been one of my goals. She’s come out with a new album but she’s been one of my favourites and I’ve always wanted to work with her. Another one would be Alicia Keys and I've never been able to - not yet.
Sean Paul is one of the most famous names in music and it's not hard to understand why. He has been churning out quality music for almost two decades and has worked with some of the biggest and best names in music. Is this slowing down for him? Not anytime soon, that's for sure! With new music with Shakira on the way and recent collaborations with Clean Bandit and Dua Lipa, the only way is up for Sean Paul.