Sean Kingston’s rise to fame is a tale fit to rival Cinderella’s own. The Jamaican born singer had his world torn apart at just 13 when both his mother and sister were charged with identity fraud and sentenced to jail. Finding himself homeless and at an all time low, Sean was forced to sleep in bus shelters across the island just to survive. It was during these hard times that Sean’s musical talent emerged, as he would often use music to escape his harsh realities.
A helping hand came in the form of an estranged family relative who offered Sean a room. It was then that Sean was able to fully indulge in his musical aspirations, staying up late on school nights to write songs and upload them to his MySpace where he was later discovered. ‘My story’s crazy. I made a demo, put them up on my page and just kept sending emails.’ It wasn’t long before Sean got a response and more crucially – a record deal! He recorded and released his first single “Beautiful Girls (Sean Kingston song)” Beautiful Girls in May 2007 sampling the 1961 hit “Stand by Me (song)” Stand by Me, topping charts on both sides of the Atlantic. His unique fusion of reggae, hip hop and pop encapsulated the feel good sunshine music of his home town which young and old could not resist.
Now, two years later at the ripe old age of 19, Kingston is ready to make the transition from teenage bubblegum pop star to music icon and mogul. Having worked with some of the most successful women in music – Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and Natasha Bedingfield to name but a few, this shouldn’t be too hard a feat. However, Kingston has now set his sights on some male collaborations with hip hops heavyweights: ‘I would love to work with Jay Z and Kanye West. lt would be a dream come true.’
Although his new album shows growth, fans won’t be disappointed with his offerings. What is clear is that Sean is on a journey to manhood and this is expressed throughout the album. ‘All of my songs are about personal experiences. I try to keep my songs as real as possible. I want people to know Sean Kingston and relate to my music.’
With this in mind, I probe Sean on the track entitled Face Drop where Sean sings the lyrics; “… saying I’d look better if I was thinner/ should’ve loved me for my inner/ When I left you I came out a winner”. Is it possible that Sean is looking for true love? ‘I am single right now. It’s hard finding a girl in this industry who loves you for you and not because you’re a star. There were girls that didn’t want to date me because I was a little chubby. Now that I’m ‘Sean Kingston’ they want to date.’
Quick to refute all critics and naysayers who believe that Sean Kingston isn’t a credible artist but simply a ringtone cash cow, Sean laughs ‘I write all my own music – I can sing and I can rap too! I can do anything. I feel like I can do it all because I am talented at all those things.’ To further validate his point Sean highlights the following ‘The number one single in the US right now is written by me! How many people can say they did that?’ He also refuses to be labelled saying ‘I shouldn’t have to make strictly reggae music because I am Jamaican. I love all types of music and I do those types of records but I’m a versatile artist. You can’t put me in a box.’
Sean made a conscious decision feature less collaboration’s on his latest album so that he could showcase his raw skill set as an artist. However, he has chosen a few artists to work with including Wyclef and his label partners – rock band, Good Charlotte. This does not mean that Sean intends to shy away from his pop sampling formula which seems to work so well. He explains: ‘I love all sorts of music. I have a ballad on the album which I co wrote with Diane Warren. It has a beautiful beat, meaning and beautiful production – it’s a real love song and a bit out of my comfort zone to be honest. I prefer to make club songs though. I love the club! It’s a recession right now – people are losing their houses and can’t afford to pay their bills. Club records can make you forget about all of that.’
Armed with a platinum debut, six million digital single sales and four million ringtones sales – Sean Kingston shows no sign of stopping just yet. Proving that he can undoubtedly hold his own in the circus that is show business, Sean has inked yet another major money deal – this time as head of his own record label Time is Money entertainment. It’s a bold and ambitious step for Kingston who is just 3 years into his career. But the young pop mogul shows no fear. ‘I believe I am the best at what I do. I can do anything.’
Words by Toya Berry