Sean Paul helped bring dancehall to the masses

Sean Paul helped bring dancehall to the masses

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It has been 21 years since Sean Paul’s dancehall anthem “Get Busy” topped the Billboard Hot 100 — which means “Get Busy” is finally old enough to hear “Get Busy” at the club.

“It’s changed for me now,” Sean Paul told The Associated Press over Zoom from his studio in Jamaica, reflecting on the song’s legacy. “Because when I say, ‘Get busy,’ I’m telling the kids to do their homework or clean stuff up.”

In the years since Paul helped introduce dancehall riddims and reggae to new audiences, he’s released six ambitious albums, including two straight out of the coronavirus pandemic: 2021’s “Live n Livin” and 2022’s “Scorcha.” He’s become a father and a devoted husband. (The “Jodi” in the “Get Busy” lyric “Shake dat ting, yo, Donna Donna / Jodi and Rebecca”? That’s his wife.) And his ambition to make joyful, danceable music has never wavered.

“It’s a timeless piece for me,” he says of “Get Busy.” “Every time I try to do a song, I try to put the same butterflies that I had in my belly when I was flirting with the first girl on the first dance floor I went to. It’s just a feeling.”

That translates to his goal of bringing positivity to the masses.

“I have a lot of help with the riddim tracks, the genre itself is very infectious,” he says. “It gives you joy.”

His dedication comes from life experience.

“I had a lot of problems, as most teenagers do, trying to find themselves, trying to understand what life’s about. You know, my father was in prison. It was a single mom situation, and she was struggling to make sure that we were conscious beings,” he says.

Music was the release.

Now, he’s taking that energy on a 22-date US run dubbed the “Greatest Tour,” kicking off May 2 at House of Blues in Orlando, Florida, and ending June 16 at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Why am I doing it now? I feel that the people are ready for me again,” Paul says.

“I did some work with some reggaetón acts last year,” he adds, referencing new dancefloor hits, including the massive “Niña Bonita” with Feid and “Dem Time Deh” with Columbian singer Manuel Turizo.

He’s also released a few solo singles, including the infectious “Greatest,” and promises more conscious songs in the future — thematically not unlike 2016’s “Never Give Up.”

“There’s a lot of struggles here in Jamaica as well as it being, you know, a very beautiful place. But we do have our struggles that we have to deal with,” he says. “A lot of people don’t know me for that type of material, but, you know, it’s as important in my career.”

At his shows, fans will get a little taste of everything. But “good vibes,” mostly, he says: “I think people feel the fun from me and it bounces back and forth.”


  • PublishedApril 6, 2024

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