Sean Paul is a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning pop star who has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. His hits include the booty-shakers "We Be Burnin'," "Temperature" Beyonce's "Baby Boy" and Eve's "Give It Up To You." Pop dominance has assured a lot of things for the Jamaica native -- among them -- random acts of awkwardness.
When asked if he sings and dances literally to the beat of his own drum, the singer admitted wholeheartedly -- yes. "It's kind of whack," he said before laughing. "It happens all the time. I'll be in a club or a public setting talking to someone, and a song of mine comes on, and I forget what I'm saying. I zone out. I'll be paying more attention to how I sound. I'm always judging myself like that."
The Jamaica native will have plenty more dancing, singing and judging to do. After a two-year hiatus (in the public eye anyway), Sean Paul is putting the finishing touches on a new album to be released in February 2012. The album will find the hit master working with top producers Benny Blanco (Wiz Khalifa, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber), Akon and Norwegian dynamic duo Stargate (Rihanna, Chris Brown). The album's first track, "Got 2 Luv U," has already been released and features Alexis Jordan and the aforementioned Stargate. In addition to that track, Sean Paul can be heard on Pitbull's hit "Shake Señora."
Q. You took a few years off -- what have you been up to?
A. Getting a haircut... I've got this crazy Mohawk now. Besides the haircut, I've been doing a lot of recording and working on the album, which is almost finished. I've been producing. I have been in the music industry. I had a knee operation that slowed me down from touring, but it kept me in the studio.
Q. Your new song is out already. It's a collaboration with Alexis Jordan and Stargate. Can you tell us who else you're working with on the new album?
A. Kelly Rowland has been someone I've wanted to work with for a long time. We were touring together in Australia last year and it was a perfect opportunity. Akon was on that tour and worked with me on the album. Production-wise, DJ Ammo, a dude who's worked with the Black Eyed Peas, and Benny Blanco, an amazing pop producer, are working with me. They're amazing and have gotten me to do things I've never done with my voice before. High pitch -- basically. They'll also be one or two surprises.
Q.You tend to collaborate a lot -- what do you get out of it? How does it work - do you approach people or they come to you? Perhaps, it's a little of both?
A. It's a little of both. I met Jay Sean on a red carpet. I was like 'I'm a fan of you.' He said 'I'm a fan of you.' And we both said we should do something together. Most times, it happens like that.
Q.I'd imagine working with someone else raises your game and makes you appreciate their art that much more, right?
A. Absolutely. I'd say working with Busta Rhymes was a dream come true. Working with him, and watching a video of him with me -- I was like 'Damn!" This is someone I looked up to in the hip hop game. Collabs, in general, are cool. The pressure is not on you for the whole creative concept of a song. It takes a stagnant aspect and blows it out of the water. It's all fresh. "Baby Boy" I came up with lines, but when Beyonce heard the song, she gave me direction and I was like 'cool' and went with it. Collabs are refreshing.
Q.You mentioned there's a different vibe with the new album working with Blanco and DJ Ammo. How so? Are you branching out?
A. The topics haven't changed much. The production style has changed. Stargate and Benny Blanco -- I never worked with them so it'll be dance music from their perspective. Blanco is more pop oriented, and that's what my music is. Dance hall when it comes from me is a popular thing. A lot of people might say I'm forgetting my roots but I was the roots. I say to them -- I am now the tree that bears the fruit. I'm not the roots anymore. In my present position, if I stay on the ground, I'd be dead. I want to continue doing what I'm doing so I'm expanding my sound in that direction.
What I'm speaking of in my music is mainly club dancing and ladies. Those are the topics I take to. I'm in vibe music -- you feel like you're in a club. You can't wait to have your first drink after working all day, and you're thinking of going out later.
Q.I'm just curious -- are you working on remixes now for songs that aren't even out now or is it a process?
A.It's something I do. So far, I've worked on a few different scenarios... a hook for this or that. It's kind of nuts, but most of the time, you wait for a song to [be released] and then see what the direction is. Art is that way. It's your perception.