Reggae dancehall artist Sean Paul took the music industry by storm in 2002 with his album Dutty Rock.
Now some 10 years later, he's still making magic with new music.
Transitioning from the traditional dancehall music, Sean Paul is focusing on bringing a cutting-edge new sound with his new album Tomahawk Technique.
GlobalGrind caught up with the dancehall artist to talk about his forthcoming album, partying with Rihanna, and writing an Olympic-inspired track called "Hold On" for his country.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
GlobalGrind: What’s your inspiration behind your new album Tomahawk Technique?
Sean Paul: I call it Tomahawk Technique because I think it’s cutting-edge, as to what dancehall can offer to the world right now. I’ve been very successful with dancehall music and the production that I’ve had from Jamaica, throughout the world. At this point in time, I just feel the need to expand a little bit. The inspiration was to have dancehall produced by people who do not produce dancehall all the time—pop producers, R&B producers, dance music producers—and see how it would sound. I expand the sound, sounding a little bit more pop, a little more dance-oriented. That’s what is happening on this album right now. That was the focus, and that was what I was trying to achieve. I think I did! I think it sounds pretty cool, and I think people should like a couple of the songs on there. Pretty hot stuff!
If you collaborate with one legendary dancehall artist, who would you want to collaborate with?
I’ve been reaching out to Supercat, who’s like the mentor for me in the business. Ever since I started to rhyme, people told me I sound like Cat…it would be an honor. I met him a couple times. We’ve talked, but not really a lot. Another dude is Shabba who is another legend I’ve looked up to. I wanted to see if I could get him on a track. He’s somebody I’ve looked up to for many years. Also, I can speak about a song I did with one of dancehall’s legends Spragga Benz. It’s something I produced and wrote, and wanted him to do. He expressed to me that he wanted me to do the song with him. The song is called, “Cylinder.” It’s an inspirational song. I think my dream has come true, in terms of me working with someone I look up to in the business with Spragga Benz.
Would you ever work with Rihanna again?
Of course! Rihanna is my girl. I’m very proud of her!
You’ve done so much work with many different artists, who did you enjoy the most?
I usually say Rihanna because she came to Jamaica to work with me. With Beyoncé, Keyshia Cole, Blu Cantrell, everybody else that I worked with, it was a great opportunity and great vibe. Though, most of time it was done via Internet, or like when I did a song with Beyonce, I had to fly to Miami to do it.
Actually, Rihanna had a few weeks of break after her first album. She said, “I coming to Jamaica! Show me around.” I was like “For sure! Let’s go to the studio too!” One of those days I took her to the beach. We went to the Bob Marley Museum, which was very important for her. We went to clubs, and we went to the studio.
That song came out that studio. It was very stress free. It wasn’t like any label told us to do it. That was one of my favorite collaborations because she got to see the way I live, and how we do it in Jamaica, which is not unfamiliar to her because she’s from the Caribbean. That was kind of cool for me, so it was one of my favorite collaborations. I’m very proud of what she’s been able to achieve since then. Anytime she reaches out musically, I’ll be there.
What’s one of the most fun moments you’ve had with her?
When I took her to the beach that was pretty cool. It was the middle of the week. No one was there, and we had jet skis and a boat. That was pretty cool. Also, we took her out to the main clubs and street dances. I think that was important for her to see. It’s a bigger scene than what may take place in Barbados, where she’s from. It’s very hardcore. A lot of people don’t understand it sometimes. When we took her to ‘Passa Passa,' a dance that happened every Wednesday night. The dance starts about 2:30 in the morning. People don’t go there until that time. People are out there to 9 in the morning. We didn’t stay out there to ‘til 9 in the morning! We stayed ‘til pretty late. For her to experience that, she said, “Your people are crazy!” I was like “Yeah, that’s how we do!” That was a fun experience for her, and for me too because for somebody in the music industry to actually see “that’s where he’s coming from” — I know she’s close to it, being from the Caribbean — It was just special for me to show her that.
What’s your favorite thing to do besides making music?
I like to keep fit. That’s a must! I just came from the gym this morning too. I’m not exceptionally the fittest kid, but I like to keep fit. That’s something that takes a toll on you over the years if you don’t keep up with it, especially me being on stage. I think a great day is being able to get up go exercise and then go to the gym. When people say to me, “Besides music…” It co-exists to me. That’s a great day for me. I enjoy doing what I do.
You mentioned you like to work out. What female celebrity do you think has the hottest body right now?
Wow! There’s a lot. Scarlet Johansson, she’s kind of hot. Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls is a different kind of hot. Janet Jackson does her thing as a musical artist. Beyoncé is beautiful, just amazing. She’s still got it. I like Sofia Vergara too, she’s hot! She has this crazy accent. I love it!
You wrote an Olympic-inspired song called “Hold On.” What made you want to write a song like that? Usain Bolt?
Exactly! When people tell me I saw you on MTV, and I felt so proud to be a Jamaican when I saw you, I don’t feel that. I’m just going through the steps of being at the TV station, or being on the radio. I’m on the grind. I’m doing my work, so I’m not thinking about it like I’m a proud Jamaican doing it. I am a proud Jamaican doing it, but I don’t actually feel that. When I see Usain Bolt running down the track, beating his chest, waving the flag when he’s done, and the things he’s been able to accomplish and keep, being the champion over these couple of years — to me I think he’s going to be the champion for a while to come — It makes me feel proud. I really love this song. I’m proud of it. I wrote it for the Jamaica track team and Jamaica, but to me, I now realize it’s more than just for them. It’s for anybody who can find an inspiring vibe from its words.
If you could do music in any other genre, what genre would you do besides dancehall?
I’ve been experimenting with different types, especially with how this album is. I haven’t gone fully into R&B or this and that, but I’ve done work with R&B artists. I’ve done work with a dance music producer on this album. Lately, I did a song with Simple Plan, a pop-rock group. I’m experimenting right now, working with these different types of artists.
What is one of your biggest pet peeves about the music industry?
I’m kind of disappointed when people rely on certain things to indicate what is hot to them, and they can’t decide for themselves. It makes me feel like there’s too many people pushing buttons. Music is more interactive nowadays. There’s YouTube, MySpace, Sirius Radio, Spotify, but people are waiting for someone to tell them to go listen to this. I wish that people would actually say, “I don’t like Jazz. I don’t know anything real about it. Let me go interactively listen to Jazz.” Come up with what they like! Sometimes the music that is pushed to people is very simple and very generic. In my own career too, I have songs I wish people would pay more attention to like “Hold On.” It’s inspirational, but people know me, and they put me in the box of the “Party Guy,” the guy that speaks about weed and girls. Go find it out there. Go love it. Don’t wait for the radio stations to tell you this is the sh*t!
Is there an official release date for Tomahawk Technique?
No, there’s no official date right now. I’m shooting another video for it this week coming up in New York. I’m just getting ready to drop them. The videos that are shot already are “Got to Love You” and “She Doesn’t Mind.” After that, I have a song that I released in Japan for the third single over there called, “Dream Girl.” It already has a remix over there, and there’s a video of that on YouTube. You can check that out! I’m going to shoot another video for “Touch The Sky,” which is next week! We’re sorting it out…but definitely summer.