Soundtrack Of My Life: Sean Paul

Sean Paul shares the songs that shaped his life. Just whatever you do, don’t ask this king of Jamaican dancehall about karaoke.

The first song I remember hearing
Bee Gees – ‘Night Fever’
“I was seven at the time and disco was really on the radio a lot. I remember going to barbecues, losing my family and everybody, and these songs were playing and everyone was happy. My aunt owned a discotheque and we had big front yard so they used to have parties there.”


The first album I bought
Various Artists – ‘Beat Street OST’
“I was 11 or 12 and it was my birthday and my mum was like, ‘Which album?’ and I was like, ‘I want ‘Beat Street’.’ I think we got it from Derrick Harriott’s. He’s an artist in Jamaica who also had a record store which would sell every reggae song that existed but also the popular stuff that the kids were into at the time.”

The song that made me want to make music
BujU Banton – ‘Bogle Dance’
“There was a song about bogling which was just so exciting. He was describing a dance that was very popular. Most popular dances that people know are from Jamaica. Buju was young and relatively near my age and I remember the first time seeing him – he was a skinny kid and I was like, ‘What?! It’s him with that big voice? Wow!’ I thought I wanted to do that but I didn’t think I could.”

The first gig I went to
Young MC and Papa San
“Papa San was a Jamaican DJ and Young MC had the Guinness World Record for the fastest rap song. I remember the girls shouting for Marvin, who was Young MC. They were like, ‘We want Marvin!’ and I was like, ‘I want to be like that dude!’”


My karaoke song
“I’m ghastly afraid of that sh*t! I was in a karaoke thing about three years ago and it was with old friends, just chilling out and doing it for fun, and they were like, ‘Your turn to do it, bro,’ and it was a hip-hop song I think I knew and I just started blanking out. I don’t like it! I was ad-libbing and they were like, ‘That’s not on the screen, bro.’”

The first band I fell in love with
The Beatles
“My mum used to play them a lot and it was very infectious and I was like, ‘Damn, yeah.’ I remember as a kid a lot of Beatles songs, so I think I got a lot of melodies from those. The Beatles were a band with a crazy amount of melodies and harmonies and stuff.”

The song I want played at my funeral
Bob Marley – ‘Natural Mystic’
“I just love that song. When the bassline comes in, it feels like God is with you.”

The song I wish I’d written
Drake – ‘One Dance’
“There are times when I really like riddims that people have. I do like ‘One Dance’’s riddims but I don’t like the song that much! To me, it’s the riddim I like. I wish I had that riddim.”

The song that makes me dance
Alicia Keys – ‘In Common’
“I really like Alicia Keys’ new song. I think people should allow it to work for her. It’s reggae, it’s dance-oriented. I know the producer who did it. Every time I hear it, it feels good. I really like it.”