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Sean Paul Burns It Up

Dancehall star wants the ladies to step up, and the critics to step off

September 30, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Sean Paul isn't going anywhere. So he claims on his new album, The Trinity. The dancehall superstar -- who captured American's attention in a big way with his double-platinum, Grammy-winning 2002 album Dutty Rock -- is sick of the music press questioning his staying power.

"I've sold millions of records. I proved it to people," says Paul. "Well, at least I thought I proved myself to people. But they still ask me doubtful questions, which is pissing me off!"

Or, as he puts it in The Trinity's title track, "My main aim is to maintain/My main aim is to stay sane/I never did like fame."

Fame is nothing new for the thirty-two-year-old singer, who has been a star in his native Jamaica for nearly a decade. But it wasn't until Dutty Rock, which spawned the Top Ten singles "Get Busy" and "Gimme the Light," that Paul broke through in the U.S. Seemingly overnight, he was invited to collaborate with the likes of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Beyonce. "Baby Boy," his 2003 duet with the Destiny's Child frontwoman, went to Number One.

Following extensive touring around the globe, Paul returned to Jamaica to record The Trinity. The album stays true to its title, offering up three types of tracks: boasts, shout-outs and, of course, party tracks. Paul claims he's "the utmost" in "Change the Game"; salutes slain dancehall legend Bogle in "Never Gonna Be the Same"; and then gets down to his main mission of "gettin' ladies to dance" on the high-energy "We Be Burnin'," "Temperature" and "Give It Up to Me."

"There's t'ree things on this album, and not just the trees I be smokin'," he jokes. "But it's all party music. My songs can play on any radio station, any TV station, and bang in the club, in the street and in your car."

In response to one of those "doubtful" questions, Paul says he doesn't have a problem being a pop star, as some of his countrymen have derided him. "I look at being a pop star as simply being popular, and I don't mind that," he says. "But what matters to me is writing these tunes on my couch, like I did when I was sixteen and seventeen. I go into my own little world and say what I want."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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