Sean Kingston in Dubai

Portly rapper talks to Time Out about Ben E King, Beyonce and The Bieber

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

Hi, Sean. You haven’t done badly for a 21-year-old. Do you ever want to pinch yourself to see if it’s all real?
Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to go out performing in front of all those people and going into the studio and recording. Sometimes I can’t believe it. We’re loving it out here in Dubai. I’ve only just landed, but I’ve been out sightseeing and it’s a very nice place.

Your career took off with the single ‘Beautiful Girls’, which was a massive hit. What was your inspiration behind that track?
You know, a lot of people ask me if that’s a true story, but it’s not about a girl in particular or something I experienced in real life. I just loved Ben E King, so I took the beat and made it my own. I wanted to make it mine.

Who’s the most beautiful girl in the world?
Right now, I’d have to say Beyoncé. When I was growing up, I had posters of people like (Clueless star) Stacey Dash and Angelina Jolie up on my walls.

You’re proud of your Jamaican roots. How have they influenced your music?
A lot. Coming from the Caribbean, I’ve created a sound that’s influenced by both rap and reggae. It’s a crazy island thing. My grandfather [noted Jamaican reggae producer Jack Ruby] taught me about music, how to count bars, everything. It was a pleasure for me to learn from someone who had produced for Bob Marley. I think that definitely helped me earn respect in music when I was starting out.

Tell us about your friendship and musical collaboration with Justin Bieber, and people’s reactions to it.
Some people love it and some hate it. But Justin is very talented and a friend of mine. We had a good time recording ‘Eenie Meenie’ and I loved the record so I can’t be mad about [people’s reactions to] it.

Where did your name come from?
Sean is my actual first name [Kisean Anderson is his full name], and I wanted something that would capture my reggae roots. Kingston is the capital of Jamaica, and I wanted that in my name.

You worked with some of music’s biggest names. Who was the most fun to work with?
I loved working with Nicki Minaj on ‘Letting Go’. She’s just so energetic and beautiful. When I did my mixtape King of Kingz, I wanted to work with my friends B.o.B, Justin and Soulja Boy and show it to my fans. We’ve got 100,000 downloads so far.

You write your own music. How has your style changed?
My style has evolved, and I’ve introduced some nice melodies into my music. It’s all about the love of writing music for me. Anybody can sing something that somebody else wrote, but I’m glad that I’m a writer.

If you could take just one album to a desert island, which would it be?
Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It has such great vocal melodies. Michael was a big influence on me – him and Bob Marley.
Sean’s latest single, ‘Greatness’, is available now on iTunes.

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