Breaking and Entering: Jay Sean
Jay Sean, born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti (try saying that three times fast), has been charting internationally for years. Now, the London-born singer/songwriter is ready to conquer the states.
His first single, "Down," featuring Lil Wayne, is currently No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, jumping from No. 63 to No. 32 before landing at its latest spot.
"The news was on, everything was depressing and we were like 'look at this man -- everything's so down in the dumps. Why don't we write a song to take everyone's mind away from being down?" explains Sean about how the track came about during a late night recording session in Miami's Hit Factory studio. According to Sean, "Wayne heard it, fell in love and dropped a verse on it," which resulted in the up-tempo summer record peppered with Wayne's gritty pipes.
Raised by a traditional Punjabi family in London's Southall area, Sean began writing rhymes at age 11. It wasn't till his late teens, though, that he tapped into his vocals. His first taste of success as a vocalist was when "Dance With You," featuring producer Rishi Rich and singer Juggy D, entered the top 20 of the UK charts. "It was like a phenomenon," he says.
Off the success of the single, Sean secured a shortlived deal with Virgin Records, releasing 2004's "Me Against Myself." Jay Sean eventually parted ways from the label in 2007 due to creative differences. "I didn't want to focus on any sound," he explains. "I just wanted to write solid, good music that would stand the test of time."
And that's just what he did. In 2008, he released "My Own Way" via his independent label, Jayded Records; the album went on to chart at No. 19 on the European Top 100 Albums chart. Lead single "Ride It," which peaked at No. 41 on the European Hot 100 singles, caught the attention of Cash Money executives, who signed him to the label shortly after, making him the first British-Asian artist to sign with an American label.
Now, Sean's ready to give the rest of the world his gift of music with the release of his Cash Money/Universal Republic debut, "All Or Nothing," slated for an October 2009 release. The album, according to Sean, features the Cash Money family and is "very melodic and real, It won't leave people feeling cheated."
On it, Sean worked with longtime producers Orange factory and Alan Sampson. "I stick with my own little crew. It's chemistry -- a special magic with people on the same wavelength," he says. "If I Ain't Got You," a track featuring fellow rising artist, Drake, will potentially be the next single. Other songs include "All Or Nothing" and "Stay," about tough relationships.
Today, Sean is jokingly referred to by many as the "South-Asian Ne-Yo" for his singing and songwriting chops, a comparison Sean takes as motivation to continue outdoing himself everytime. "I feel very blessed and fortunate," he says. "You have one shot to represent your people and community and now that I'm making the right steps to getting there, I want to show what our culture is about and that we're just like everybody else."