With the exception of Shaggy, there is no greater reggae star in the world than Sean Paul. The eloquent, charismatic performer has slipped into millions of mainstream homes thanks to his third disc, "The Trinity," and his hit singles "We Be Burnin' " and "(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me."
Music fans are finally getting a taste of Paul, who is a huge favorite with reggae aficionados. The dancehall master's previous disc, "Dutty Rock," went double platinum in the U.S. and nearly 6 million copies of the album have been purchased worldwide.
"I came a long way (with "Dutty Rock')," the Grammy winner said. "Because of ("Dutty Rock') people think of me when they think of reggae."
Paul's fan base has only increased with "The Trinity," a collection of boisterous dance tunes released last October. The tracks are the hardest, edgiest songs Paul has ever released.
"I never want to repeat myself," Paul said while calling from Manhattan. "I couldn't make the same album again and again. I want to be respected in reggae."
Paul, who was born Sean Paul Henriques, is an anomaly in the reggae world. While most of his peers came of age in a hardscrabble environment, Paul grew up middle-class and graduated from Jamaica's University of Technology. His father played water polo and his mother is a renowned Jamaican painter.
All of that didn't stop the erudite, well-bred Paul from writing about Jamaican 'hoods, set to familiar island rhythms.
"You don't need it (a ghetto pedigree) if you can cut it," said Paul, who headlines at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson on Saturday and is touring with Mariah Carey. "What people don't know is that I didn't have it so easy growing up."
Paul's father was arrested for trying to smuggle marijuana and he was always fighting, literally, for respect in school. "People would call me the uptown boy and ask for money when I didn't have any. My father was in prison. So I had to bust people up."
Paul battles for credibility in the studio and it's apparent that he's won most battles. "I try to do the best that I can do," Paul said. "I have a great history to continue."