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