'What A Dutty, Dutty Man!!'
Born Sean Paul Henriques on the 8th January 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, Henriques was educated at Wolmers High School near the National Heroes Stadium, and the exclusive Bel Air High School in uptown Mandeville. His principal vocational research was at the College Of Arts Science And Technology in Hope Road.
Although he was qualified in this domain he was drawn to the excitement of the dancehall. He began as a songwriter although he found greater success as a performer. In 1997, he recorded in combination with Spanner Banner on the Jamaican chart-topper, "Ladies Man", through the singer's Sweet Angel Productions. The hit resulted in him embarking on sessions with Jeremy Harding, a little known producer who burst on the scene with his production of Beenie Man's crossover hit, "Who Am I". The producer released the dancehall favourite "Baby Girl", which was followed by the more successful, "Infiltrate". The latter single joined the singer's combination hit in the Jamaican chart.
In 1999, the DJ's career was firmly established when he embarked on a hectic touring schedule taking in Europe, Japan and the USA. He collaborated with Mr. Vegas and US rapper DMX on a contribution to the soundtrack of Hype Williams' Belly. He cemented his popularity in the US with a hit remix of "Hot Gal Today" and the album release, Stage One. In 2002, Paul enjoyed a mainstream US Top 10 hit with "Gimme The Light". He was even more successful the following year when "Get Busy" rose steadily up the charts before reaching the number 1 position in May.
Chatting with Sean Paul back in England, I first wondered what the story was behind the song 'Gimme The Light'? "There's a couple of tracks that you do. That you spend all your time and write for many weeks. It's funny because this one took me about two hours to write. There's a lot of energy in the track, cos sometimes you know what you're doing and you can do it quick and easy. I've been in a lot of clubs going from New York and Jamaica and I realised that dance hall is a big thing so I wanted to make a club song."
OK, how do you say the 'Dutty' in the title of your new album?! "In Jamaica it's the way we say dirty, so it's dirty rock basically."
Glad we cleared that one up then! So what are you working on at the moment? "I'm working on a couple of singles. In my home country we do a lot of singles. Every month there's many singles coming out. Some of these will make it on a new album and I hope to do that at the end of this year. But I'm busy touring at the moment. I usually do my recording in Jamaica. I've only done about three singles this year and some might think that's a lot of work but in Jamaican terms that's lagging behind! I've got to pick up my socks."
How did you get started in music? "When I was younger my mum noticed that I was good on the keyboard and encouraged me by sending me to piano lessons. I didn't finish going but she bought me a keyboard cos I had been pressuring her for years. I used to go over other people's rhythms and do my own songs. At that time I was a swimmer for Jamaica. I wanted to go to the Olympics. When I was 19 a lot of my friends started going away. So I was left with a lot more time to write songs and focus on the music instead of swimming."
Is it true that you were a mean waterpolo player as well?! "My whole family were Jamaican swimmer so I came into the game with a lot of water on the brain. So swimming and water polo is what I did."
You won Best Reggae act at last year's MOBO's, how did that feel? "Reggae music doesn't get that much exposure so it was great. And it was my first prize ever. I've never even won a BBQ meal ticket!"
You seem to be continually surrounded by beautiful women, is that a major perk?! "Yes sir. I can't complain about that one at all. That one is a nice vibe. That is one of the nicer things about this whole game. In certain countries the ladies can be quite aggressive though. They grab and they pull."
Have you ever been shown up while trying to impress the ladies? "There was a show in New Jersey I was introduced on the stage and the crowd was making a lot of noise and I thought I was doing pretty well. Then there was a lot more noise and I couldn't figure out why. Then I turned round and there was a nice blonde lady behind me who had taken off her shirt and was dancing to my music."
What's this we've heard about your family being descended from a shipwreck gang of horse rustlers escaping from bounty hunters?! "I think that was my father not knowing how to answer my questions of how we ended up in Jamaica when our family name is Portugese," he laughs! "He would just say, 'Yeah, we're horse thieves ...'!"
If you weren't a musician what would you be? "I was in hotel management for three years. I was a chef as well. Maybe I would have opened a restaurant or something. I like to live my life day by day. The only thing I find hard with this whole thing is the hectic stuff. So maybe when people aren't interested in me anymore, I'd like to do the production."
Who has influenced you musically? "There's a couple of people. I looked up to Supercat. Also Shabba Ranks. I've been heavily influenced by Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Third World. My mum used to play me the Beatles and my aunt used to run a disco so I was exposed to all sorts of good stuff."
Interviewed by Gary Franklin for Exclusive Magazine
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