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Sean Paul wants to get you on the dance floor

Dancehall singer talks about grooving to his tunes and Jamaican politics
/ Source: The Associated Press

The ladies love dancing to Sean Paul’s contagious dancehall grooves. Guys like him for making women move on the dance floor.

After three years without dropping an album, the dancehall don is back with “The Trinity.” Paul talked to The Associated Press about his music, violence in Jamaica and why his album may surprise fans.

AP: “We Be Burnin”’ is a smash single, but behind the groove is a message. Do you think that message gets buried?

Sean Paul: Dancehall music is perceived as party music, which it is because of the rhythm, but there are messages that do come through or a purpose of an artist saying something to the world. People usually don’t get the messages because of the partying.

AP: Is making music for men and women something you always strive to do?

Sean Paul: I show I can rock it in a hardcore way, but the vibe is smooth. Dudes can appreciate the hard vibe on a song like “Gimme The Light,” but it sounds so sweet that girls dance to it. Sometimes another artist can’t get away with making songs like that.

AP: What do you say about the fellas that just play the wall at the club and don’t get on the dance floor?

Sean Paul: I’ve seen dudes like that, but to tell you the truth I’m like that at times too. Maybe there’s a new move people are doing and you’re just not with it, but things like that are natural. There are times where I’ve hated dances that come out in Jamaica. After a couple months of everyone doing it though, I see myself swinging in the same way. People have too much pride sometimes. After a while, you have to let loose though. It’s about socializing and vibing.

AP: Why is the album named “The Trinity?

Sean Paul: Because it’s my third album, it took three years since “Dutty Rock” dropped for it to come out and it was all produced in the Third World. It has three moods: partying, addressing the critics/haters and a somber mood.

AP: Do you believe that this album completes the full circle?

Sean Paul: Yeah, because it’s more on the dancehall vibe. I’m more reggae. “Dutty Rock” was “Dutty Rock.” I did songs with Beyonce and Busta Rhymes and I felt like a rock star. So that was that vibe.

AP: Is that why you toned down the huge collaborations with this album?

Sean Paul: I’ll tell you the main reason why — it’s Jamaican vibe. I’m trying to spread the music to the five million people that know my work now, so they know who inspires me in the Jamaican vibe and who the young kids are coming up. It’s like because of reggae music and because I took pride in my culture, I’ve been to places like Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt twice, Dubai, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, all over the States, Canada and Europe. Some of these places have never even heard dancehall music before! Now, I’ve helped to change the game. I’ve made dancehall more popular around the world.

AP: We recently spoke to Damian Marley about the gang violence in Jamaica. What’s your take on it?

Sean Paul: The politicians are there to control this so-called chicken-coop that they got. They try to keep their organizations, so they give kids guns and tell them, “You vote for me in this area.” Any young kid could pick up a gun there, especially when you’re in the ghetto and have to survive. I’m a peaceful person, but when someone drives bad around me, I get road rage and that’s the same thing with them, except they have life rage. They grew up in the slum, in the ghetto. They have a zinc roof and when it rains, the water rushes down to the bedspread. I know kids that live like that. There’s one outlet and that’s dancehall music. There’s not much to do. Kids don’t have games, so they go out and socialize and that’s what keeps us calm.

AP: Are you comfortable being labeled a dancehall artist?

Sean Paul: Definitely. The music I do is dancehall music, although reggae is evident on my album. Reggae is the father of our music and dancehall is something that came out of it, through economic situations in Jamaica happened where not everyone could be in a band and express themselves. (My) song “Never Gonna Be The Same” is reggae. ... A song called, “Time Rolls On,” it’s talking to the leaders of everything — government, gangs and religion — and it’s saying as time rolls on, when will we ever live together? When will we ever care about each other? For thousands of years (politicians) told us, “Follow us, follow us, we’re leaders and we’re going to do the right thing.” Then they lead us into war with each other, time and time again. The song asks questions like, “Muslims and Christian, Buddhist and Hindu, Rastafari and Jew — when will we ever share one God?” It’s very conscious music, which I’m not known for. I’m known to rock the crowd. As I said though, this album shows growth and proves that I can talk about real life.