Interview: Sean Paul

Sean Paul 2012

Below are extracts from interviews with Sean Paul published in New Nation newspaper between 2002 and 2006. His latest album, Tomahawke Technique is out now.

What is your heritage?

My mother’s mother was born in Coventry, England, but the rest of my grandparents were born in Jamaica. My mother’s father is Chinese and my father’s mother is mixed with white and Portuguese. My father’s mother was mixed with black and white.

You were scheduled to perform Baby Boy alongside Beyoncé at the 2003 MTV Video Music awards, but she sung the track by herself and performed a duet with Jay Z while you watched in the audience. US media reports claimed Jay Z banned Beyoncé from going on stage with you that night. What really happened?

Beyoncé’s people spoke with us about doing the show and we asked ‘when’s the rehearsal?’ They kept saying: ‘Oh, we’ll contact you.’ Up until the last day, there was no rehearsal. So I prepared to do my own performance. I don’t know why we didn’t perform together. I saw her that night and she apologised. I never knew she was going to do that and it kinda pissed me off.

Have you spoken to either Beyoncé or Jay Z since that night?

I’ve not spoken with Jay Z, but I talked with Beyoncé at the MTV Europe Awards in Edinburgh and we’ve done a couple shows in LA and New York.

Is it true you were restricted from contact with Beyoncé on the Baby Boy video shoot?

A lot of little problems happened with that song. It was number one for nine weeks, so me and my camp can’t understand why they exist. Last month, I ran on stage at Madison Square Gardens in front of an audience of 30,000 screaming people and none of them could hear me. When I went backstage afterwards all my band and dancers were saying: ‘They are not looking out for you. Your monitor was on, but nobody heard you out in the crowd.’

What problems have you faced dealing with major record labels?

Atlantic wanted to drop Like Glue after Gimmie The Light, I was like: ‘No, Get Busy is the tune now.’ Do you know how I forced them to release Get Busy as the second single? Two weeks before we were scheduled to shoot the video for Like Glue I told the director Little X: ‘We’re gonna shoot Get Busy, but don’t tell anybody.’ He’s a Trinidadian yout’ so he’s down with the programme and he was the one that bus’ we wid Gimmie The Light.

We sprung it on Atlantic a couple of days before the shoot and they were like: ‘Oh my God’. They were vex about it and stopped returning my calls. But after it blew up they were like: ‘You were right, I can’t believe it. You have made the artist decision of a lifetime. I’ve not seen this done in 10 years.’ This is how they talk you.

Who are your favourite MCs?

Super Cat is my mentor; he is a really important MC for me. But I also look up to Shabba Ranks and the late Major Worries – all those yout’s had original styles.

The Telegraph newspaper suggested you might be the ‘middle-class Marley’. Is that an accurate description?

A lot of people compare me to Bob Marley but the album Sizzla released in 2002 – Da Real Thing – is the closest dancehall has come to anything like Bob Marley. Buju Banton released an album called ‘Til Shiloh a few years ago, which has a similar vibe too.

People keep saying: ‘Are you the next Bob?’ And I have to tell them ‘no,’ because I’m not a musician like that. People take my exposure for a crazy ting and I appreciate and love that, but there are some other really great albums put together by brilliant musicians in Jamaica.

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