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HomeArts & CultureSean Paul in pole position to rock the Corniche

Sean Paul in pole position to rock the Corniche

Sunday’s Grand Prix race in Abu Dhabi will decide who wins the F1 championship – and Sean Paul is just as revved up for his upcoming performance on the Corniche.

The Jamaican dance-hall king will headline on Friday, day two of the free Beats on the Beach festival – followed by a show at Mad nightclub on Yas Island the same night – and says he is looking forward to the thrills on and off the stage.

“I have been to one of these events before,” he says. “There is a lot of excitement and the noise from the cars is so loud. It is actually quite scary what they do. Maybe one day I can get in a car like that and go on the track.”

Paul is referring to his previous performance at Beats on The Beach, in 2010. The 43-year-old has fond memories of playing to the 20,000-plus crowd that watched his set.

“Abu Dhabi has such a great crowd” he says. “There is a great energy the Abu Dhabi crowd gives me. I don’t know what it is but they have a lot of love for music. That always helps me to give it 100 per cent, which I will do when I see you guys.”

Paul returns to the capital with a fistful of hits accumulated in the years since his previous appearance, many of them collaborations with other artists.

The biggest of these was the international chart-topper Bailando, with Enrique Iglesias in 2014, and What About Us, with British girl group The Saturdays, which made it to No 1 in the United Kingdom in 2013.

Paul returned to the top of the charts this year when he teamed up with Sia for a remixed version of her track, Cheap Thrills.

All the hard work has paid off, with Paul signing a deal with major label Island Records this year after two years on small Jamaican labels.

“It is a good time for me,” he says. “I have been blessed to be doing this long enough to have my own fans and I could have stayed on a smaller label. But sometimes that extra push from a major [label] helps in putting out there even more. It allows me to do more work with artists.”

Paul confirms that work has started on a new album. While he cannot say when it will be out, he says he will be busy in the studio working with other artists.

“There is one song I am planning to do with Justin Bieber,” he says. “Then there is another track that I plan to do with [Dutch electronic dance music act] DJ Snake.”

Asked if he worries about collaborations overshadowing his solo material, Paul is a realist.

“Well I do have my songs that my fans love, but at the same time, it is easier to get noticed if you are doing a song with Shakira,” he says.

Since appearing on the scene with his groundbreaking debut Stage One in 2000, Paul has gone on to become one the biggest dance-hall acts of the past 20 years, with album sales totalling nearly 10 million.

With hits including Get Busy, Temperature and We Be Burnin’, Paul played a large part in cementing dance-hall’s place in popular culture.

As a result, however, the singer admits that the genre’s homespun vibe has, in some cases, been watered down.

“I try to keep it as pure as I can for the fans,” he says.

“But things change with time and mood. For me, as long as it has those elements of dance-hall then its OK.”

• Sean Paul will perform at Beats on the Beach, Lagoon Beach, Abu Dhabi Corniche, on Friday, doors open at 6.30pm, free entry, www.yasalam.ae; and at Mad on Yas Island the same night, www.madonyasisland.com

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