Even though he released his first album, Stage One, in 2000, Jamaican dancehall artiste and rapper Sean Paul truly made people sit up and take notice of his talent with his popular song, Get busy, in 2002. In 16 years, he has not only released a number of chartbusters, but has also collaborated with famous artistes, including Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull and Rihanna, among others.
Here, he talks about his love for India, how he wants to expand his repertoire, and more.
Do you feel that ‘Get busy’ was the single that turned things around for you?
‘Get busy’ was an attempt to take dancehall music to a level where it was not just ‘ours’ anymore. I was trying to make the indigenous sound more global. Dancehall sometimes sounds a little hip hop-ish, sometimes a little R&B-ish, or more like dance music. But, it is versatile, and it is evolving. I want my album and singles to define what dancehall is. I don’t want people to be confused. I’ll do step-outs with Mýa and Jay-Z, and whoever. I’ll be on their R&B rhythms. I would love to do rock too. But my albums need to define what dancehall is. I know what I can do, and that’s what I’m hitting at.
Watch Get Busy
You perform all over the world. Do you have any plans of performing in India soon?
India is one of my favourite places to perform at. I had a great time when I was there a few years back. I would love to visit India again, have some spicy Indian food and say a big hello to all the beautiful ladies. I think Indian audiences understand dancehall reggae very well.
Are you familiar with Indian music? Are any collaborations with Indian artistes on the anvil?
I know Bollywood is big, and there are some good artistes in India. I have heard of AR Rahman. I hope to someday create studio magic with a Punjabi rapper. I dig tracks that have soul and beats, which are culturally intrinsic to India. I’d like to introduce the tabla and the sitar in my sound soon.
As a reggae artiste, how have things changed for you over the years?
When I first started out, I wanted to prove myself in my genre. Now, I want to blend my genre with other genres. I love hip-hop and trap music, and now I want to go in different directions and get more variations to reggaeton and dancehall. When it comes to dancehall or reggae music, I have reached a point, where I don’t have to prove myself to anybody. I’m up there with the best of them. So, I’m just expanding. Right now, however, I am really looking forward to my performance at the Pakistan Super League in Dubai.
You had once said that “even in the darkest times, people have to find a way to enjoy life and make the most of it”. What kind of a role does music play, according to you, in times of adversity?
I think music is the shoulder you can cry on. It is the universal language of love and humanity. In tough times, you take to music in a big way, because it has that consoling effect. It helps you connect to emotions at a deeper level. It is the best healer and has the power to bring about a change for the better.
Over the years, you have collaborated with several big artistes like Beyoncé, Carlos Santana, Rihanna and Pitbull, among others. Which have been your most memorable collaborations and why?
I have many favourites. They are all awesome. I have learnt something from everyone I have worked with, and I’m glad to be in this profession. I would call it an eclectic mix when I worked with Stargate (music producers) and Rico Love (singer). I have worked with some smaller artistes as well, like Sasha (DJ) on ‘I’m still in love with you’. It doesn’t matter if you are famous or not. If you sound good, then I’d want to work with you.
Who have been the biggest influencers in your life?
People like Busy Signal, Agent Sasco, Super Cat and Bob Marley are great. They created the highway that I’m able to drive on right now.
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