Words by DJ Autograph
Artwork by Robin Clare
In place of this week’s regular Mixtape Mondays, #MM contributor DJ Autograph of Safari Sound unveils the first edition of his three-part The History of Sean Paul mix series.
In a business where most artists have a limited window to shine, Sean Paul has managed to stay on top and relevant in an ever-evolving industry for over 20 years. He’s been representing dancehall and Jamaica in places one would never have guessed knew anything about our culture.
My first encounter with his music was circa 1994, an experience I detailed in LargeUp’s Throwback Thursdays column a few years ago. Approximately two years later I started going to sessions where I heard sound systems such as Renaissance playing “Black Bottle,” Sean’s ode to Guinness — a brand which Jamaicans love almost as much as Clarks. The first time I saw him perform was in 1996 at Campion College’s barbeque alongside the rest of the Dutty Cup crew. I distinctly remember him performing “Black Bottle” over Sly & Robbie’s Fed Up riddim on Travellers International sound system. (Fed Up was the riddim that most sounds voiced the dub of that particular song on.) Shortly after “Black Bottle,” Sean started working with Jeremy Harding, whose first release under his 2Hard Music label, the Fearless Riddim, spawned Sean’s first local hit, “Baby Girl.” Later that year, 2Hard Music released its second riddim, Playground, featuring Beenie Man’s international smash “Who Am I” and Sean’s “Infiltrate,” the single that made the world take note.
The first installment in my three-part History of Sean Paul mixtape series aims to showcase some of the well-known and not-so-well-known tunes that laid the foundation for Sean Paul’s international success. (That success will be explored more in parts 2 and 3 of the series, respectively). Some of the tunes on this mix are among my favorite Sean Paul records, with “Girl On The Phone” probably taking the top spot (shouts to Eddie Stats!).
Before you press play and enjoy some early SP career jams, check him performing a medley of his ’90s tunes at Lexxus’ birthday bash in 1999. Enjoy and, last but not least, Dutty Yeh!