Sean Paul scored a hit single with "Gimme the Light" in 2002, but now he's looking to the darkness for inspiration with his next solo project, which he hopes to release this summer.
The dancehall star is a third of the way into his yet-titled album, the follow-up to 2005's platinum The Trinity. He says he's going to address heavier topics on the LP this time around, particularly the problems he sees confronting children in his Jamaica homeland.
"The content is just a little different than what people expect from me," Sean Paul told MTV News last week. "[On] one or two of the songs ... it's not about partying, it's not about ladies; it's about the kids with the guns in the streets. It's more reality. [On] 'Sufferer,' I'm talking about the younger generation that has no other option for success than to find a gun somewhere. I try to appeal to them: 'I know you a sufferer, but it doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't expect any better.' It's a lot different than from what I usually say, like, 'Get busy, shake that thing.'
"Sometimes when I write something that's more personal to me," he continued, "it's a weird situation."
Since Sean Paul began recording in September, two people close to him have passed: One was a founding member of his Dutty Rock crew and one was a younger music aficionado who was killed in November, the night after he and Sean Paul attended a party together.
"The next day he goes back to his community and gets shot to death," Sean Paul explained.
"It's upsetting to see these kids' lives ... [getting] wasted," he continued. "I saw potential in these two kids and many others. It really hit home. And I'm thinking of a voice, I need to say something to people. [All the while] I'm trying to keep the party people parting and keep them happy, [because] that music is a release, to chill the hell out and wild out and do your thing. But also, it's reached a point where I know have this voice that people listen to, so I have make people think a little more than they may be used to."
In the meantime, Sean Paul hopes to keep the dance floors packed with his verse to the upcoming remix of Akon's "I Wanna Love You" (featuring Snoop Dogg). He recently laid down his vocals and confirmed the song should be hitting airwaves soon.
But even with his Snoop collabo in the can and an assortment of lighter material he's working on for his next album, Sean Paul said heavy fare would be prominent for him.
"I feel like I have things to say," he said. "And that's what I'm looking forward to."