Sean Paul is the biggest selling and most high profile Jamaican artist since Bob Marley, and he’s just signed a deal with Island Records UK, whose president Darcus Beese called him, “a cultural icon,” and told billboard.com, “I don’t think there’s anything more potent or authentic than Island Records sitting down with a reggae artiste of his calibre and having a conversation about signing them. It’s absolutely a natural fit.”
Label founder Chris Blackwell sold his interests in the label many years ago but there’s still a certain amount of symbolism involved in all of this. It means that Island is now a major player in the reggae and dancehall stakes once more, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens now a readymade superstar has joined their roster.
We spoke just after Sean had played Bestival, and the day before he was due to perform at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Both shows received rave reviews. The media have once more rolled out the red carpet, but then why wouldn’t they? His and Sia’s Cheap Thrills went to No. 1 on the Billboard 100 last year – it was the fourth time he’d done that – whilst Trumpets, shared with Sak Noel & Salvi, was a massive club hit, just like that remix of Luv by Tory Lanez. Magic invited him aboard the follow-up single to their smash hit Rude, and he even popped up on a Little Mix track [Hair]. More to the point, Sean Paul is the world’s best-known dancehall artist, and godfather to both reggaeton and ‘tropical house’. His success played a key role in helping to establish dancehall at the heart of international club culture, and yet he remains refreshingly down-to-earth for a two-time Grammy winner.
“Island had a very good deal for me,” he begins. “They’re giving me a lot of creative space and that’s something I’m so appreciative of… ”
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