Sean Kingston on writing for Rihanna, the Kanye-Taylor Swift incident, and more: A Music Mix Q&A
Sean Kingston has a problem: he can’t stop making hit singles. The 19-year-old delivered the summer jam of 2007 with “Beautiful Girls,” and owned summer ’09 with the smash hit “Fire Burning.” He stopped by to talk to us about his just-released album, Tomorrow, why he’d like to collaborate with Kanye and Taylor Swift, and what he listens to when he hangs with his mom.
Entertainment Weekly: So in addition to your own stuff, you’ve been writing songs for other people lately.
Sean Kingston: Yeah, Rihanna has an album coming out and I submitted three songs. The people over there, everybody liked the songs, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m just trying to write for everybody right now.
EW: When you write for someone else do you try to fit your songs to their sound?
SK: Definitely, I start listening to their old records, what they’ve done before, and I say, “Okay, this record could be for her, or this is what she needs.”
EW: Anyone you would love to write for?
SK: Beyonce. I love Beyonce. She’s dope so I think that would be great to write for her. She’s put out a lot of work, hit after hit after hit, album after album after album, she’s a trendsetter. Great performer, great fashion-sense.
EW: If you worked with Taylor Swift, would you try a country sound?
SK: Yeah, I love country. I think country has the biggest melodies ever. And they’re so melodic and that’s what I love to do. So if I did something with her, I’d like to do something like that.
EW: And you also said you’d like to work with Kanye—do you think you could bring them together to work on the same song after the whole VMAs thing?
SK: I don’t even think it’s that serious anymore. To be honest with you, man, I think Kanye reached out to her, she accepted the apology, I would guess they’re cool again. If not, I’d like to bring them together. That’s what music is about. Life should be together, happy and making great music. That’s how it was back in the day, now people want to look at it like, “Oh, it’s a competition.” It’s not a competition. Everybody’s talented; everybody’s famous for a reason. It’s all a community.
EW: What songs do you put on when you want to get pumped up for the clubs or to go onstage?
SK: Jay-Z’s “Run this Town,” let’s see, we could put on The Fray, “You Found Me,” we be jammin’ to so much stuff. Gucci Mane’s “Photo Shoot.” We got Daughtry, we got All-American Rejects. Before I go on stage I’m listening to, right now, Black Eyed Peas. Fergie, I love her solo stuff, you know, I was on “Big Girls Don’t Cry” Remix.
EW: What kind of music do you put on before going to sleep, to chill out?
EW: Right, you like a lot of different music but reggae is your main thing. Why is that the biggest part of your sound?
SK: I really like the concepts, the reggae concepts like the culture vibe. They speak on everything that’s going on, they don’t have limits. They speak on politics, they speak on life, they speak on the troubles of poverty, everything. The message, the melodies and the concepts of reggae music are unbelievable, and the production.
EW: You mentioned you run songs by your mom for quality control. Why’s that?
SK: She’s backed me, she’s just been behind me since I was seven years old, giving me money to go to the studio, money to print up CDs, she was always behind me.
EW: What music do you listen to when you’re hanging with her?
SK: She likes Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, she likes Bob Marley, she likes the Fugees’ The Score.
EW: What do you think about the new Whitney?
SK: I love the new Whitney, man. I’m glad she’s back. She’s beautiful, she looks great. You know the first song I ever sang was Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You,” so I’m a huge Whitney fan. I think her video’s nice and she’s got a good album, too.
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