After producing an endless array of hit records for the likes of musical heavyweights such as 50 Cent, The Game, Rihanna and Snoop Dogg, production savant J.R. Rotem has turned his attention to one of the most innovative young talents in music, Sean Kingston, the first signing on his Beluga Heights label.
Kingston, a 17 year old native of Jamaica who now lives in Miami brings his very unique triple threat of talent of rapping, reggae chatting and soulful harmonization with the 2007 release of his debut yet to be titled album.
"As an artist, my whole goal is to make powerful and classic music," Sean divulges. "I want everyone to feel me and understand where I'm from and that's what this album will do. The music is all about an authentic Sean Kingston vibe. JR is a talented dude and a dope producer and he saw that I had something different than any other artist out there. Together we're a powerful force.
In addition to J.R., The Runners, Cool and Dre, DJ Felli Fell, and DJ Khaled will be supplying beats. In just a short time, Kingston has already done what few in his age bracket can accomplish - solidify a following in the streets and get people excited about music again.
He has two certified thunder knockers on his hands with "Colors 2007" and the Jamaican remix. The original version is a lyrical brouhaha with Kingston showing he can hang with the acclaimed guest MCs. Miami Mayor Rick Ross and the multi-platinum west coast superstar, The Game. The reggae remix of Colors is a Caribbean hailstorm featuring the legendary Vybez Cartel and the always profound Kardinal Offishall. Both records maintain the same theme of unity and self-reflection.
"That's the whole campaign," Kingston, whose parents are from Jamaica, elaborated. "The song is about representing every flag that you're loyal to - whether it is Jamaica, the States, your block etc. It's a lifestyle record that can be a street anthem no matter where you are. I couldn't ask for anybody better than The Game and Ross to join me on the track. The Reggae version came up because I knew I had to do one special for Jamaica. The first person I thought of was Vybez Cartel. His verse came out crazy. Then Kardinal Official, that's my homie, he really attacked the track."
Kingston's album is shaping up to be as diverse as the colors are on the different flags he talks about.
The melody of "Stand By Me," also acted a muse for the first official single off the album "Beautiful Girls." It is way more than puppy love when Sean lays his vocals on the record, singing about a shattering break up.
"You're way too beautiful girl," he sings about heartbreak. "Girls will have you suicidal when they say it's over."
"I heard the track 'Stand By Me,' one night in the studio, the radio was on. "I asked J.R., did anybody ever flip that? He made the beat the beat right there on the spot and I wrote the songs in a few minutes. It's hard when you're in love and a girl tells you that it is time to end things. I know everyone can relate to that, so that's why I had to write about it."
"Drummer Boy" finds Kingston sticking mainly to rapping over the trouncing pounce of drums, while "I Can Feel" takes it to the party and incorporates a sample of Phil Collins' timeless "In the Air Tonight."
Perhaps one of the most eye opening track however may the song "Prosecutor," where Kingston vents about what he calls the wrongful imprisonment of his sister and mother. "You're lying and there's no way to prove it," he fumes.
Sean says he was inspired to write the record after he saw his family incarcerated when he was just 14 years old.
"I always had my sister and my brother," he began to explain. "My brother was doing his own thing, he was there but he was running around doing his own thing. When my mother and sister went away, it took a lot out of me. My sister went away for four months and my mom been away for over a year. When she went way, I was like 'nah man, this is too much.' I was only 14. I missed her like crazy but I pulled through and used it as my motivation. "Prosecutor" is a defining song on the album for me - nothing fake about it because it touches on something very personal to me. The dope melody that's on there makes me feel even closer to it."
Kingston wants to make it clear that he is no cookie cutter artist that has the songs laid out for him. He comes up with 100 percent of his lyrics.
"Man, it feels good to get that creative freedom," he says. "Not a lot of artists are put in that position. I don't feel that just because I'm a young dude, somebody should write my songs and say 'ok spit it this way.' I think music is better when it comes from the person, when it comes from your heart. I feel comfortable writing my own music and them letting me do it, is a great situation.
Sean talks about J.R. more like a big brother, rather than an Executive Producer of his album. Couple of years ago, Kingston started randomly hitting music industry contacts on MySpace. Although none of the A&R reps responded, Rotem emailed him back. J.R. almost had no choice, "Sean would hit me up at least three times a day!" J.R. says.
"He just had a real distinct sound," Rotem remembers. "I worked with some of the best and I don't see why Sean can't grow to be one of them. His potential is limitless."
Rotem invited Sean for a meeting in Los Angeles, coincidentally; the young performer was already in the process of moving to California. Shortly after their initial meeting, Rotem had a flagship artist for his Epic records joint venture, Beluga Heights. For Sean, it was almost like a prophecy beginning to be fulfilled. Not only is music his love, it is in his blood. Iconic Reggae artist Buju Banton is his uncle and Jack Ruby, who produced records for Bob Marley and Burning Spear in Jamaica, is his grandfather. Now Kingston says he's looking forward to making music and living out his dream.
"In the future I want to have my own label and work on the business side," he said. "I went to acting school when I was younger, so I want to get into that. I want to get into every aspect of the business. It took me a little while to develop and build my sound, to find out who the real Sean Kingston was. I didn't know if I wanted to harmonize, or to rap. But I found out that I can do it all."