Sean Paul’s new album ignites mixed moods
Acclaimed entertainer talks scorching collabs
A consummate follow-up to his 2021 Grammy Award-nominated album, Sean Paul’s Scorcha is a light-footed strut around the dancehall playground. The highly acclaimed reggae and dancehall artiste quickly transitions from one theme to the next; from party and club bangers to love and infidelity and themes of self evolution.
The long-awaited eighth studio album, which was to be made available immediately after Live N Livin, was released officially last Friday. It features the same number of tracks as the previous project – a total of 16 – but shows a completely different side of Sean Paul.
Across the 16 songs, not a single moment is wasted, be it the upbeat, tropical-pop flavour of Dynamite featuring Sia, or on a more mellow mood, How We Do It with Pia Mia. Meanwhile, the title track, Scorcha, and others like Wine Up, Earthquake, Pon Di Reel, Back It Up Deh, Bend You Back and Bouncing that gets a dose of that Jada Kingdom-high, can definitely get a man and woman working up a sweat in the back of a club.
Sean Paul is adamant that he makes party music, “Something where people can forget about their problems and throw themselves into a party on a weekend,” but he also does not want persons to ignore his growth. Six years before breaking the equator of mainstream pop hemisphere in 2002, the St Andrew-raised singer-songwriter and producer looked from the outskirts, and while watching others in the music industry, stated it was going to be him next.
Twenty years later, he is heard singing out loud that he has No Fear, about the need for family in Calling On Me, and that Borrowed Time is not satisfying (speaking about emotions of entanglement). The collaboration with No Doubt lead vocalist Gwen Stefani and trailblazing dancehall princess Shenseea, titled Light My Fire (and dare I say my favourite), takes the music back in time. Imagine stopping at a street-side bar on the countryside, to grab a cold beer and hearing old-school, rocksteady echoing through the speakers and seeing an old man, respected by all, just holding his one lighter in the air. No need for rapid movement, just sway – that the scintillating effect of Light My Fire.
Sean Paul pretty much describes the creative process in a similar way. He said, “It was me writing with Emily Warren, who is responsible for the hook on No Lie with Dua Lipa, also Kojak, the producer and we were just thinking ‘we need to get one of those pop stars to get on this’. Gwen Stefani popped up and me say yeah a dat fi gwaan.”
He explained that Shenseea recorded her verse first and he waited for the right opportunity to pitch the track to Gwen Stefani, who has declared her love for reggae music over a decade ago through productions like Underneath It All and Hey Baby.
“She [Gwen Stefani] is awesome. Firstly, she loves reggae and is still a great vocalist. I’ve loved so much of her music, her voice and her style from she was with No Doubt straight through her career and I feel honoured she could do a dope song with me,” Sean Paul told The Sunday Gleaner.
He also shared that to have Shenseea, “a full package” as a woman with an exciting story being written this very minute, with her rapid growth and exposure, “she has all the assets and attributes of a huge star”. The two Jamaican acts have done previous recordings such as Rolling and featured on her Alpha album was Lying If I Call It Love. Sean Paul does not lie, he has love for Shenseea and all the women on Scorcha.
Sean Paul has had 19 hits, in the top 20 of the Billboard Charts and is live – and living his best life and is ready to turn up the temperature for another decade and does not intend on being deterred by any negative energy. “Critics will talk but it’s not easy to do what I’ve done, they didn’t do it, and they don’t know anyone in this genre that did this, or that is close to them that did it. I’ve helped to make my genre better; I have not left it worse. I mean I’m still here and just want to partake in the history, try guide some of the ‘young guns’ that’s doing it, with my opinion,” Sean Paul shared.