Get(ing) Busy: Sean Paul has just released Tomahawk Technique on VP/Atlantic records.
For his fifth album "Tomahawk Technique" (VP/Atlantic) released last month, Grammy award winner Sean Paul recruited a cadre of international hit-making producers including StarGate, Benny Blanco, Pierre "The Maven" Medor, Rico Love and DJ Ammo to create interpretations of dancehall reggae in addition to recording duets with pop singers Kelly Rowland and Alexis Jordan. Earlier this year he appeared on tracks by EDM star Erick Morillo and Canadian pop punk group Simple Plan. The question now is, can incorporating such a wide range of talent and sound, help Sean recapture the massive crossover success he achieved with 2002's multiplatinum smash success "Dutty Rock"?
Sean's recent hits more closely align with global electro dance floor tastes than with Jamaican party or "bashment" favorites, yet he continues to proudly fly dancehall reggae's banner. "I wanted to take elements of what I do as a dancehall artist and add dance music BPMs, R&B and other flavors to help bridge a gap and let Jamaican music play alongside what's happening internationally," Sean explained in a recent interview at the midtown Manhattan offices of Susan Blond, Inc, the firm that has handled his publicity since 2005.
"Tomahawk Technique" debuted at No. 2 on the Top Reggae Albums chart for the week of Oct. 6th; unlike its predecessors, the Grammy Award winning "Dutty Rock" (which catapulted Sean to global stardom in 2002 and has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide), 2005's "The Trinity" and "Imperial Blaze", released in 2009, "Tomahawk Technique" did not enter any other charts in its first week.
The focus single for the US market is the StarGate produced R&B accented "How Deep Is Your Love" featuring Kelly Rowland, which had its exclusive digital premiere October 3 on PerezHilton.com.
"Tomahawk Technique" arrives in the US eight months after its release throughout Europe, where it hit the top 10 on national charts in Switzerland, France and Austria and the top 40 in Holland and The UK, propelled by StarGate's "Got 2 Luv U," featuring Alexis Jordan and "She Doesn't Mind", produced by Shellback and Benny Blanco; both singles reached the top 10 in 11 European nations. Released as test singles in the US, "Got 2 Luv U" peaked at No. 20 on Hot Rap Songs chart, "She Doesn't Mind" at No. 40 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart while the videos to both songs have garnered nearly 100 million views each on YouTube.
"Sean is a global artist with a big international audience so he has to have time to commit to being in the marketplace in different territories," explains Joi Pitts, Vice President of Marketing at Atlantic Records. "In the US, Sean has been in stores in multiple markets reconnecting with consumers, using various opportunities to promote the music. We did some viral promotions, releasing the album via Twitter with links to his website (www.allseanpaul.com) and we put together a mash up of all the songs to get people excited about the project" added Pitts.
The month-long US leg of the Tomahawk Technique tour, Sean's first stateside tour in 6 years, commenced on Sept. 19 at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Criticized earlier in his career for his lackluster live sets, Sean has developed into a confident, charismatic entertainer.
At the tour's Oct. 2 New York City stop at SOBs, Sean fully engaged his audience with his speedily chanted rhymes. Backed by a six-piece band, Sean juxtaposed his frenetic dancehall hits including "Get Busy" and "Temperature" both of which topped the Hot 100, in 2003 and 2006 respectively, alongside "Tomahawk Technique's" cosmopolitan flavored tracks including "Hold On," a tribute to the 2012 Jamaican Olympian athletes, that reached no.1 in Belgium. "With these songs, I am taking dancehall to a different level right now," he told the SOBs crowd to roaring approval.
When his hectic touring schedule allowed for time at home in Kingston over the past year, Sean, assisted by his brother/hype man Jason "DJ Jigzagula" Henriques and his road DJ Shaun "Coppershaun" Anderson, produced the dancehall rhythm tracks Blaze Fia and Material. As is standard practice for Jamaica's (dancehall) producers, Sean then (individually) recorded several artists' vocals over the rhythm tracks; he released those songs on his fledgling digital label Dutty Rock Music. Sean's vocal turn on the Material rhythm, "Roll Wid Di Don," is the sole undiluted dancehall track featured on "Tomahawk Technique".
Promoting "Tomahawk Technique" is Sean's primary focus this year, but he has also recorded songs for the core dancehall market with Jamaica's top producers including Stephen McGregor and Donovan "Don Corleon" Bennett. Additionally, he has done step out tracks including the pulsating "Feeling It Baby" with superstar DJ/dance music producer Erick Morillo and Sympho Nympho feat. Segarra contrasted by the laid back "Summer Paradise" with Canadian pop punk group Simple Plan. Peaking at no. 8 on the Canadian Hot 100, the video to "Summer Paradise" has surpassed 37 million YouTube views.
Sean's embracing of various genres, fused with his unmistakable Jamaican patois flow, continues to broaden the global recognition for dancehall reggae. He is nominated for Best Reggae Act honors at the UK's MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, slated for Nov. 3 at Liverpool's Echo Arena. Sean vies for first prize in the Best Caribbean Performance category at the Soul Train Awards, Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, on Nov. 8th and he's a contender for the Best World Stage Performance award at MTV's European Music Awards (EMAs), to be held at Frankfurt Germany's Festhalle on November 11th.
And Sean performs in India for the first time Nov. 2-4 an experience that could influence future global hits and expand his popularity to "Dutty Rock" proportions. "If indigenous Indian music breaks next year I am going to infuse that sound into my music too," Sean offers. "I am listening to what's going on around me, trying to stay out there and keep dancehall's flag waving around the world."