Born Sean Paul Henriques in Kingston, Jamaica on January 8, 1975, Sean Paul's lineage truly reflects Jamaica's national motto, "Out Of Many, One People." On his Portuguese father's side there is a family legend about the shipwreck of horse-rustling ancestors during a daring escape from bounty hunters. Sean's mother is a renowned Jamaican painter, and both his parents were noted athletes - a tradition Sean continued as a youth, representing his country in many international swim and water polo meets. After graduation from UTECH, he kept body and soul together by working as a chef and later as a teller in a bank.
In his early teens, dancehall reggae became Sean's leading passion. Such artists as Lt. Stitchie, Major Worries, and Supercat were important influences. A few years later, as Sean began writing his own n lyrics, he made a link and busted some rhymes for Cat Coore, Bunny Rugs, and Carrot Jarret of Third World. "Cat said, 'Your voice sounds great, lets do some demos,'" Sean Paul recalls.
Sean developed his skills by making dubs and playing barbecues. In 1996, after a couple of singles, he made the crucial connection with then up-and-coming producer Jeremy Harding, owner of 2 Hard Records. Jeremy had just completed the Fearless riddim, and Sean voiced it with "Baby Girl," his first woman-oriented lyric. "Baby Girl" became a huge hit, opening doors all over Jamaica for Sean. During this time, he continued to learn the deejay trade and mature as an artist. He hooked up with the Dutty Cup Crew, a group of aspiring deejays. "We used to smoke weed, and a 'dutty' is a used pipe, but that's not what we were all about," Sean explains. "In life, if you don't work hard and dutty, you won't get nowhere, so our cup is full."
In 1998, Sean recorded "Infiltrate" on Jeremy Harding's Playground/Zim Zimma riddim. The riddim was a reggae smash, both in Jamaica and internationally, and "Infiltrate" became a top record in the juggling mix. "'Infiltrate' took me to enough places," Sean recalls. Charting number one in Belize, the record rocked hip-hop mix shows in New York and Miami.
Hitting next with "Excite Me," Sean's name was spreading to the rest of the Caribbean, especially Trinidad and Guyana. He then recorded "Deport Them," which became the #1 record in Jamaica on Tony Kelly's Bookshelf riddim. The song received major airplay in Miami and on New York's hip-hop mix shows, later crossing over onto regular rotation on New York's Hot 97.
It was around then that Sean Paul joined forces with emerging sing-jay Mr. Vegas. Their first collaboration, "Hot Gal Today," on the Street Sweeper riddim by Steely and Clevie, became a #1 record in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. Sean and Mr. Vegas also collaborated on the dancehall hit, "Tiger Bone," produced by Richard "Shams" Browne on the Intercourse riddim. In March of 2000, just as "Hot Gal Today" was heating up in Miami and New York, VP Records released "STAGE ONE," Sean Paul's debut album. Meanwhile, Sean and Mr. Vegas joined forces with producer Tony Kelly and multi-platinum rapper DMX for "Top Shotta," a song on the Belly soundtrack, further lifting Sean's rep in the States.
After a wicked re-mix on the Punany riddim, "Hot Gal Today" joined "Deport Them" in rocking American hip-hop and R&B radio. Together the two tunes thrust Sean Paul's Stateside career into orbit. He became the first reggae artist to have two singles added at the same time to a major American radio station (NYC's Hot 97), and the first reggae artist to simultaneously chart two singles from the same album ("Hot Gal Today" at #66 and "Deport Them" at #85) on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. "Hot Gal Today" also hit #6 on the Billboard Top Rap Singles chart. With all the radio play in New York, Sean built up a major New York City base among tastemaker disc jockeys and true hip-hop fans.
Sean was named #3 Reggae Artist of the Year by Billboard and "STAGE ONE" was named Billboard's #4 Reggae Album of the Year. Meanwhile, "Hot Gal Today" was featured on the Shaft soundtrack. The sales of "STAGE ONE" went through the roof. At the same time, Sean continued his string of Jamaican successes with "No Bligh" for Penthouse Records, "Check It Deeply" for In The Streetz, and "My Name" for Shocking Vibes.