At what point do we go from Boyz II Men? That is the eternal question being pondered by baby-faced crooner [artist id="2542027"]Sean Kingston[/artist] in his “Fire Burning” video, a clip which aims to take him from “Beautiful Girls” into the great booty-ful beyond.
It’s a tougher transition than you’d think. Kingston, 19 (though he looks about 14), struck gold in 2007 with a pair of easy, breezy semi-reggae hits: the the aforementioned “Girls” and “Me Love,” both of which could generally be described as “sweet.” Now he’s back with a new album, Tomorrow, a new swagger and a new, mature sound. But so far, the kids aren’t buying it. Growing up, it would seem, really is hard to do.
Earlier this year, Kingston leaked “I’m at War,” an overwrought, Auto-Tuned track that featured a cameo by none other than [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist]. Somewhat surprisingly, the song failed to gain any real traction, which sent everyone scurrying back to their respective laboratories and boardrooms, and eventually led to “Fire Burning,” which has officially been dubbed the official first single from Tomorrow. (Officially.)
So here, we get Sean Kingston: King of the Dance Floor, shouting out the ladies burning up the club (and presumably buying him drinks, since, you know, he’s 19). We get plenty of sweaty popping and locking, a bare midriff or 15 and a three-second cameo from [artist id="2000082"]Rick Ross[/artist] (I think). Gone is the sweet, slow-paced subtlety of “Beautiful Girls” — a notion which made the song seem genuinely retro back in ’07 — replaced instead with a cut-to-the-chase, your-place-or-mine immediacy that belies Kingston’s age. It seems that waiting goes out the window when you make the leap to manhood. Seduction does too.
And yes, perhaps I’m reading too much into what is essentially a sweaty, sunny, summertime jam (and a sweaty, sunny, summertime video). Make no mistake about it, Kingston and producer RedOne (who’s worked with Lady Gaga and Akon, both of whom reportedly have cameos on Tomorrow), have created a surefire smash with “Fire Burning,” a track that you’ll hear blasting out of fine establishments like Señor Frog’s for the discernable future. But beyond that, who knows?
Tomorrow, by title alone, is already looking toward the future. And judging by the pair of tracks we’ve now heard from the album, Kingston is too. He’s exploring genuinely adult themes here (namely, sex) because he’s ready to become a man … and, given his age and his success, why wouldn’t he?
But here’s the thing: Making the leap from sweet-faced pop star to lust-driven lothario is difficult for almost anyone to pull off, and the chasm between the two is littered with also-rans too numerous to name (anyone seen Omarion around?). Can Kingston pull it off? Does he even want to? That remains to be seen, though it’s certain that with “Fire Burning,” he’s already got one foot on the ledge. Now all he’s gotta do is jump.