Talkin’ Music: Sean Paul

“I stopped playing professional water polo so I could focus on my music.”

Doesn’t that sound like something Tom Waits might say in an interview? But it’s not a piece of Waitsian fiction, it’s actually a quote from Sean Paul. Both Sean Paul’s grandfather and father played for the Jamaican National Water Polo team. (Who knew Jamaica even HAD a National Water Polo team?)

Having been a Sean Paul fan for years, I harbored great expectations for his album Tomahawk Technique. This should surprise no one because 1) I’m a notorious fan of Jamaican dancehall, and 2) I’ve shaved numerous mohawks into my head over the years. (But I’ve never dyed any of ’em bright red!)

But to be honest, three-quarters of my way through the album I was feeling disappointed. At that point, the hottest track was a duet with Kelly Rowland. (Ouch!) As the album crept towards its conclusion, I sadly glanced skyward and noticed that the roof was neither on fire, nor had it been torn off.

And then Roll Wit Di Don dropped. Not only did the roof fly off, but the sky started to pour down on me like I was George Crosby. (And by the way, who else do you know who is able to compare reggae with Paul Harding’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Tinkers?)

Of late, I’ve been listening to Roll Wit Di Don nearly every day. For example, I listened to it twice this morning before 8:00 AM. This is not 100% my choice: it’s my son’s favorite song. Every time he hears music playing, he starts insistently babbling, “yeahyeahyeahyeah… [pause] whoawhoawhoawhoa,” which is babytalk for “play Roll Wit Di Don.”

Is the fact that my infant son knows Sean Paul’s taglines proof that I’m listening to too much reggae around him? Perhaps. But primarily I’m relieved that he hasn’t latched on to some godawful Chris Brown song.

Here are my Big Three of other Sean Paul songs:

Lebron: Riot featuring Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley. The first track of Sean Paul’s newest album Full Frequency is a reminder that nobody in reggae does call-and-response lyrics better than Jr. Gong. For example: the “Dreadlocks/Mohawks” line in Verse 4. The song also contains the classic line: “Gongzilla, Sean Paul colder than the coleslaw.” Only Jr. Gong can make shredded cabbage sound that good!

K-Love: We Be Burnin’. Hmmm… I’m beginning to think that there might’ve been another reason why Sean Paul gave up playing competitive water polo. Perhaps a failed drug test or two? Wait, do they drug test athletes in Jamaica?

Kyrie: Touch the Sky featuring DJ Ammo. Without a doubt, this is the hottest track off Tomahawk Technique. It’s also the album’s final song. After murdering not one but TWO breakdowns, Sean Paul ends his verses with a killer shout-out to…. wait for it… Kevin Federline!

Sean Paul

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