Over the span of nearly 15 years, Jamaican native Sean Paul has assisted in bringing dancehall to the international forefront, all while transcending genres in the process.
Countless awards and nominations, including accolades from MTV, Source, ASCAP, and a Grammy, already rest comfortably upon his mantle; yet Sean is showing no signs of stopping or slowing down.
Slated to be released on February 18th is “Full Frequency,” his sixth official studio offering; which boasts interesting collaborations from artists including Damian Marley, Iggy Azalea, and American emcees Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, and Juicy J.
We spoke with Sean about his reintroduction to a new audience, recent triumphs, and plans for the future:
AllHipHop: You were directly responsible for popularizing dancehall in entirely different countries; how do you feel about the direction that the genre has taken?
Sean Paul: It has grown way bigger than when I first started. I think that the state of dancehall is bigger, but just like the music industry itself, sales have dropped.
Do you stay in tune with the younger generations potentially following your footsteps?
I’m actually really proud of the kids now coming up in the arena. A lot of people are out of touch with what they’re actually doing.
Are there any trends that you’ve noticed or different sets of challenges that you’re seeing them encounter?
As I said, sales have dropped as a lot of tracks have become digital. You definitely need to have a team around you, and know how to work in this new market. I’ve learned to adapt and write music that works on the internet as well.
Fans will finally see collaboration between yourself and Damian Marley, what took so long for this to finally occur?
It was just timing. I’d been going to his studio already, but we wanted to wait until we had the big one. We also just had a concert together recently, on the “Reggae Cruise.”
How did you actually go about choosing which artists you wanted to work with on this project?
I don’t necessarily go out searching to work with certain artists. I like dope people and I like to work with people that want to work with me. With 2 Chainz I went to the studio but ended up playing basketball with him. It was pretty cool, just a natural and organic link. It just worked.
There are strong ties between Caribbean and African music, especially as Ghana’s Azono scene has exploded; do you see yourself working with any artists in connection with it?
I’ve worked with Afro beats artists, one in particular who’s from Ghana but based out of England. I’m always open to it.
A lot of people have already decided on their own version of what Jamaican life is like; is there anything that you hate about the portrayal of it?
I know school teachers, those involved in urban Jamaican life; there are people working two jobs, real upstanding people that are just trying to come up. People only want to see one aspect of the country, not the grimy or the real shit. We don’t want to push this tourist, paradise fantasy, but nobody wants to always be portrayed in a negative, stereotypical way either.
What do you think your legacy in the game will be?
Life is harsh and hard. My music puts you in a good mood and just makes you dance. The love that I get just for this is amazing.
Your latest project “Full Frequency” is set to drop February 18th, only a few weeks away; can we look forward to anything else from you this year?
I have two other dancehall oriented projects on the way as well.
Can we look forward to seeing you in the States more frequently?
[Laughs] I would love to. I haven’t done a major tour there since 2009, but did a smaller tour of House of Blues venues in 2012. For 2014 I’m looking forward to it. But make sure you look out for the Arsenio Hall show on February 13th with me and (fellow Jamaican artist) Konshens.