Sean Paul Premieres Uplifting 'Never Give Up' Video: Exclusive

Steven "Streets" Bernard
Sean Paul

Sean Paul brings positive vibes to his "Never Give Up" video, premiering on Billboard today. The Steven “Streets” Bernard-directed production is shot in Sean’s birthplace of Kingston, Jamaica.

“My music has always been about partying but there comes a time when you just have to say something about the problems people are going through,” says the Jamaican dancehall superstar, referencing the sentiments of hope and perseverance expressed in his latest single (released via DubShot Records/JA Productions). “The whole world is under pressure right now -- the financial meltdown, war, terrorism, people are dealing with a lot so I wrote 'Never Give Up' about how I felt and how other people are feeling, too.”

“Never Give Up” contrasts against the numerous up-tempo or bashment singles 2004 Grammy Award-winning DJ/ rapper released throughout the 12 years he was signed to Atlantic Records, including the Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers “Get Busy” and “Temperature.” 

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“The few songs I have previously done with serious messages were never picked as singles by Atlantic,” acknowledged Sean, who parted ways with the label in 2014 and now releases his music independently. “Party songs have weighed heavily in my success -- they are fun, an escape, and are still something I love, but to be a balanced artist you must have songs like 'Never Give Up' that are based in reality.“

“Never Give Up” was produced by Justus Arison for Kingston/Miami based JA Productions, which he formed with his business partner, the late Patrick “Roach” Samuels. The duo ascended to dancehall’s major league in 2011 with the “Overproof” riddim (rhythm track), which spawned numerous hits including Khago’s “Tun Up Di Ting,” Daniel Bedingfield’s unexpected turn “Sometimes You Just Know” and Sean’s “Standing There" featuring Zia Benjamin. Arison also edited and produced the “Never Give Up” video, which features Jamaica’s FAME FM radio host Nicole “Nikki Z” Duhaney and a visit to Big Yard Studios, where Sean recorded the song’s vocals over Arison’s “Life Support” riddim.

The “Life Support” riddim was originally released in July, garnering enthusiastic praise from the dancehall core; a re-mastered version featuring additional artists, named Life Support Double Dose (released on Dec. 18), boasted hits by veteran Beenie Man, rising dancehall star Popcaan and, of course, Sean. 

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“Sean and I talked about doing another party song but I thought he should do something that other artists weren’t doing on the riddim so we made 'Never Give Up' for people who are in the struggle in Jamaica,” says Arison, who attributes his success to Samuels and is still grappling with his unsolved 2013 ambush at a Kingston gas station. Arison, too, draws encouragement from “Never Give Up.” “I love the song’s message of hope and strength,” he says, “it’s powerful and I think it has great potential internationally.”

To further the reach of “Never Give Up,” JA Productions joined forces with DubShot Records, a New York City-based label and distributor spanning reggae, hip-hop and electronic releases. “As an independent Sean is now re-inspired and this is the kind of record people are excited to hear from him,” notes Christoffer Mannix Schlarb, DubShot’s Founder/CEO. “Because Sean can do so many things now that don’t operate under a specific infrastructure, DubShot is basically providing the marketing and distribution for Life Support Double Dose, “Never Give Up” [which will be officially released as a single in early 2016] and its video. We are really excited to be working with Sean and Justus to push the boundaries of dancehall.”

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For Sean Paul, who has sold millions of records, earned numerous awards and performed in more than 110 countries, pushing the boundaries of dancehall now means delivering authentic messages in his records. “I love to be in that place of freedom that dancehall offers me, the partying and being outrageous,” says Sean, “but the times we live in are serious, and it would be fake to not reflect that in my music.”