Sean Kingston ‘Back 2 Life’ Album: ‘100,000 People’ Features Wiz Khalifa, Shakira Unites for Song
In May 2011, Sean Kingston came face-to-face with death when a jet ski he was maneuvering crashed into a bridge in Miami. In the months leading up to the accident, the singer — best known for his reggae-pop hit “Beautiful Girls” — had been working on his third album, releasing several singles like the Nicki Minaj feature “Letting Go (Dutty Love),” “Dumb Love” and the Justin Bieber collaboration “Eenie Meenie.”
After two months of rehab to mend both injuries sustained during the incident and the two surgeries for a torn aorta doctors found, Kingston’s near-death experience made him reexamine his life. He decided to start from scratch and go back to his reggae roots for his third effort.
Kingston returned to the lab, this time with producer J.R. Rotem, who helped the 22-year-old crooner create the sound on his eponymous 2007 self-titled album. With a new batch of collaborators, Kingston says fans can expect “a whole new me” on the forthcoming LP, fittingly titled Back 2 Life. The BoomBox caught up with Kingston and had him dish some details about the project — he and Shakira unite on a song. He also told us about iChatting with Wiz Khalifa and their collaboration, his favorite Bob Marley track and the ladies man he tried to be back in elementary school.
Where are you right now?
I’m actually in L.A. right now, Hollywood. I come to LA when I want to record and stuff like that.
Are you putting the finishing touches on Back 2 Life?
Yeah, it’s almost done. It’s basically done.
It’s been a longtime coming, right?
Yeah, man. It’s been about a year-and-a-half. I was in a tragic accident and I’m really just excited to be back. I’m excited to be alive. I’m excited to be back making music again and I can’t wait for my all fans to hear what I’ve got going on.
When I saw the title was Back 2 Life I couldn’t help but think that it had anything to do with the jet ski accident. You were badly injured during that.
It came from the accident. I’m coming back to life. God gave me a second chance at life, ya know. I’m coming back, this is basically a whole new me. I’m more humble. I’m more levelheaded. I’ve been through a lot. I appreciate life, so it’s basically I’m back and this is me.
Did the incident make you want to do things differently now?
I wouldn’t say that. It made me appreciate the little things in life. I don’t take nothing for granted now. I enjoy everyday like it’s my last. I live it up because you never know when it’s going to be your last.
A Sean Kingston album always has some fun surprise guests. Who did you get for the new album?
We have Wiz Khalifa. We have Nicki Minaj again. We have T.I. [on “Back 2 Life (Live It Up)”], Busta Rhymes, Shakira and some other people, but working with Shakira was amazing. She’s talented and one of a kind.
How did you and Wiz Khalifa hook up?
Me and Wiz have always been friends, since before “Black & Yellow,” before he got into the mainstream world. Then basically one day I just was like, “Yo, I got a record for ya,” and I sent it to him. I think I iChatted it to him, actually. And he was like “I love the record. The record is amazing!” He did the record and sent it back to me. He was perfect for the song.
The song is called “100,000 People.” It’s a feel-good stadium type of song and I think people are going to love it. It’s an anthem. When people hear this record they’re gonna start crowd-surfing at my shows. It’s one of those high energy records.
What about collaborating with Shakira?
My peoples played her peoples my record and they loved it. I wasn’t able to be in the studio with her actually, but she’s a great person. She’s talented.
So the songs you began recording and releasing in 2010, before the accident, aren’t going to be on the album?
Yeah, we got a whole new batch of songs. This is a whole new me. I’m humble. I’m back working. I switched it all up. I wouldn’t say I was cocky before, but a lot of the stuff I was recording it wasn’t really … I had a sound but I was all over the place. I had a lot of time to recover, so I had a lot of time to come up with the concepts and melodies. I have a better sense of direction of where I wanted to go with the album. I’m more than 100 percent excited and happy with the album.
I heard you returned to your roots?
Yeaaaah, the island reggae mixed with pop a vibe. I hooked up with the original guy who made all my beats and all my production, J.R. Rotem. He wasn’t really on my second album as much, but I’m back working with him now and he did the whole album. I just felt that we had a chemistry that was unreal. His beats and my songs go together so perfect, I didn’t want that to stray. I wanted to work with somebody that knew the real me. That’s the guy that gave me my chance, he discovered me, so I wanted to go back to my roots, my culture.
You were raised between Florida and Jamaica. How often do you go back to Jamaica?
I go to Jamaica probably three times a year. Usually I get a hotel, if not I stay with family. My uncle has a nice spot in Kingston and my aunt has a spot in Ocho Rios. I’m from Ocho Rios and Kingston. It all depends. If I’m going down there for a have fun type of vibe and jet ski and that stuff, then I go with my dad to Ocho Rios, but if I want to go to the clubs I go to Kingston. They love me there. I always represent my country to the fullest so they love me for that.
Did you listen to some reggae while making the album?
I definitely listened to a lot of reggae, but I always listen to reggae, so I wouldn’t say I just listened to reggae for the album. I definitely did listen to a lot old school music — Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Earth Wind & Fire.
What’s you favorite Bob Marley track?
“No Woman, No Cry.” I love the melody, it always makes me feel good. I like the concept of the song, what he’s talking about.
Like that song, some of your recent past tracks — “Letting Go (Duty Love)” and “Dumb Love” — talk about love. Is that the influence?
I’m just a romantic type of guy. I’ve been in certain relationships and take off experience and start writing songs off of it. I feel like relationships make great songs. And I feel like a lot of people go through love and want to hear about it.
Do you have girlfriend now?
No, I don’t have a girlfriend now, but I look for just honesty, just to be loyal, humble, just to be there and to have my best interest. You have to have ambitions, you have to want to go places in life. I love a girl who could make me laugh and a girl who can cook.
Do you remember your first crush?
I think it was a girl in elementary, in fifth grade at Horizon Elementary in Florida. I don’t remember her name.
Was Sean Kingston a player when he was a kid?
I guess. I did write notes. I use to write letters and leave them in lockers.
Watch Sean Kingston’s “Letting Go (Dutty Love)” Video