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Rapping into the hearts

Rapping into the hearts
Highlights

Sean Paul is known for raising the temperature with his performance. The international star has carved a niche in the world of music and has...

Sean Paul is known for raising the temperature with his performance. The international star has carved a niche in the world of music and has collaborated with many known faces. The Jamaican record producer and rapper will be performing at the opening ceremony of Pakistan Super League on February 4 and has put up an anthem for the showpiece event. In a tête-à-tête, the rapper talks about his musical career

Excerpts
When did the music bug bite you?
I grew up as a lover of music. I came up in the biz about 1994. I was in school before that always doing small lyrics and songs. By the time 1994 came around, I started doing long demos like 4 minutes long—songs with four verses. Then the vibe changed where I shortened my verses, started to get catchy hooks and found out which hooks were needed from me.

You were in national polo team till you were 21. Why was the sudden transition in career?
It’s my Jamaican origin that made me venture into reggae music as the style belongs to Jamaica too. The thing with Jamaica is that we have a very high output of music for such a small country. We have more recording studios per capita than any other country in the world.

Artists around here are typically recording every week, sometimes 2, 3 times a week, 4 times, even more. We have large sections of Jamaicans and West Indians living in certain areas like New York, London, Miami and this kind of places, our music travels very easily because we are supported by our own Jamaican and West Indian communities. If you live in New York, or you live in Florida, and you grow up there, you always heard reggae music playing, even as an American, because there’s so many Jamaicans in New York City.

How did you get your first big break?
In my country every two months, we have people who become stars inventing new dancehall styles and it’s a big industry. It’s just not being paid attention and it’s something that everyone does as a kid, it’s a natural phenomenon for us.

You have collaborated with so many artists, which one is most memorable and favourite collaboration?
I am voicing for the biggest artists dancehall has ever seen and collaborating with people such as Future Fambo and I have many favourites. I would call it an eclectic mix when I worked with Star Gate and Rico Love. They are all awesome.

I have learnt something from everyone I have worked with and I’m glad to be in this profession and to have this career. There have been small artists that I have collaborated with, such as Sasha ‘I’m Still in Love With You’ and after a while, she wasn’t that big and now she’s doing church music. But it doesn’t matter if you are famous or not, if you sound good, then I’d want to work with you.

What is the scene of reggae music these days?
I’ve been trying to blend dancehall music with what’s popular right now. Dancehall music was popular globally and everybody has certain flavors. A lot of people have done certain flavors of dancehall, but basically, it’s been so many years and there are more things to listen to now. There’s trap music, techno is back, and I wanted to blend stuff with that. For the music to grow it means more pie for the people involved. The fact that dance music is the hot thing right now is just a fact of life. Life is like a ball, it goes around.

Any plans to collaborate with Indian artists?
Give me some dope artist and I’m all cool. I know Bollywood is big and I’ve heard of AR Rahman. I hope to someday create some studio magic with an Indian producer. I especially dig the beats which are very culturally intrinsic to India. The tabla, the flute and the sitar are a great combination with reggae.

What is music to you?
Music is a universal language that unites people from different walks of life. Music helps me send out a strong social message. Music tells you about the artist and what they were thinking about at the time because the person has to think about it to sing it. I do feel I have a responsibility to the youth.

Tell us about your Dubai tour?
It crazy compared to where I’m from. What I love about Dubai is the diverse community that it has become and it’s an oasis. I mean, it’s a desert, and not many things survive, but this is a big city – so that fascinates me. There are also beautiful people from lots of different cultures here. I’m going to be performing at Pakistan Super League on the February 4 at Dubai Cricket Stadium and I’m putting together the anthem for the league.

What is your favourite album and why?
As a kid, one of my favorite albums as a youngster was Slick Rick—the storyteller. He was doing things I had never heard before, like rapping and using a second voice, answering himself, and telling a story at the same time. It was very creative. I also understood that he was a Jamaican. He was a big influence in how I like to present a song. I don’t use different voices like that but I’m trying to tell a vibe in my songs every time, not just a song about this or that.

What are your future projects?
When you don’t hear an album from me right now, I’m still doing tours. I have done 500 countries all over the earth. So my thing is not so cookie cutter as people put together music nowadays. I do take time. I’m putting together the anthem for the league. I’m experimenting with my sound and looking at some collaboration with Jamaican artists.

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