All photos from Sean Kingston's Instagram.
He's collaborated with Kanye West, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Dr Dre. He released a mixtape with Justin Bieber. His Jamaican upbringing—read: stage name Kingston—which bared strong influence over his early hits like "Beautiful Girls" and "Take You There" set the stage for popular Dancehall-inspired tracks like Drake's "Controlla." He's written smash hits like Jason Derulo's "Whatcha Say" and Iyaz's "Replay." The guy has even toured with Beyonce.
Yet, a few nights ago, Sean Kingston performed at the Stampede Bar & Grill, in South Auckland, a fact we will likely find ludicrous in coming years. Those in attendance will regale their friends with the tale of having seen "Sean Kingston at this bar in Papakura in 2016."
Unfortunately, the most we've heard from Sean recently is his beef with rappers Meek Mill and The Game, where Sean accused member's of The Game's entourage of stealing his jewellery in the club. Before meeting Sean, we were advised not to bring this up. We did anyway.
Hey Sean, you were so big here, but the last four years has been somewhat of a hiatus. What've you been doing?
I've been chilling. I've had stuff go down with my record label. I didn't have a lot of creative control in my last situation and now I have 100 percent creative control. I've got a lot of new music coming out. I have Chris Brown on the album, I have Young Thug on the album, I have Zendaya on the album. It's the original vibe that I started with, the reggae/pop worldwide stuff.
How has it been to watch your world collide in popular music? Do you feel like you fathered that a little bit?
A little bit, yeah… I love it because it's where it's from and it's my culture, but in the back of my head I mean you've got records like "Controlla" and Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and those records are amazing records, but when I started I was doing that kind of reggae melodic stuff and now in 2016 that seems like a new thing. It feels like I was ahead of my time.
You came up on rap and they molded you into becoming more melodic, right? What's it like watching young rappers come up today? I saw you worked with Tory Lanez way back in what, 2010?
Tory Lanez? I discovered Tory Lanez! And Iyaz! I found them both on the Internet and signed them.
You found Tory Lanez?!
Yeah I found him on YouTube when I was on tour with Justin Bieber and I got to Canada and had him come to the arena, then a flew him out to Miami a month later and signed him. I was helping him with writing and harmony for a couple years, so it feels like he came out of my school. Now he's doing so good for himself.
This is going to sound like pandering, but I just don't feel like you get enough credit-
It's crazy that you started at 17. You're a veteran.
I really think so too! That's the most complicated thing that I'm battling, I've done so much stuff that I don't seem to get credit for. Iyaz was recording off of Walmart headphones and sending me music that had something so different and so dope. I wrote him "Replay."
And "Whatcha Say," right?
Yep. Getting full creative control now is amazing, I get to work with who I really want to work with, I have all the fans who started with me and they're getting older now.
Man when you were big, you were so big. Is that level of popularity something you're striving for again? Do you even want that?
Yeah definitely, I'm ready. It's about making world music, it's about touching somebody's life. When I used to listen to the music, when I pressed play, it was an experience. I could feel every emotion. When people used to listen to my songs it used to make them feel like they were travelling to the tropics. That's what I want to go back to.
You think hip-hop got too exclusive?
It got too exclusive.
You can't comment on the Game and Meek situation, but having seen so many rap beefs really heat up over the past couple of years, why is that? Is there an angle the mainstream media is missing?
I just really want people not to do it for record sales! That's all it is. Meek Mill is a great guy, The Game is cool, I've met him a couple of times and he's cool. I just feel like this is going on too long, whereas there's a lot of real stuff going on. Hillary and Trump, police killing people back to back. For there to be beefing right now, it doesn't make any sense.
So it's for the hype?
I think so. This situation went down in June and you're bringing it up in September. To be honest, I'm over with it, I took my videos down… I'm done with it. The music is what matters, you come back with a hit single people are going to forget about the rest. That's what started it.