Dancehall / Feature

Sean Paul Explains How His Single Mom Inspired One Of His Biggest Hits “Rockabye”

Sean Paul has revealed that his 2016 collaboration with Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie, “Rockabye”, was one of his favorite collaborations, as he shared a personal connection to the track.

The “Temperature” deejay opened up about his favorite collaborations during his recent sit down with Yendi Phillips. Sean Paul, whose real name is Sean Paul Henriques, explained that his favorite collaboration was with Rihanna, but he highlighted that “Rockabye” with Clean Bandit was quite personal.

Rihanna’s collaboration stood in his top 3 because, unlike other collaborations, Rihanna showed significant interest by visiting and touring Jamaica with him, which made the song much more than just a musical collaboration.

“Most collabs I do, I either travel abroad or I do it over the internet. But I met her (Rihanna) on tour and she was like ‘I wanna come Jamaica’…..So I was like, well then fawud. Then one day she pick up the phone and say ‘I’m coming for Christmas….” The “Give It Up To Me” artiste recalled.

“The first place me take her was Bob Marley Museum, and she was in awe just sitting there like this was the man [Bob Marley] used to deh…. we ate food round there, go beach, we go club, we go studio… There was no real talk of doing a song it was just like I wanted to show her the place. And then we ended up doing a song that went to number 7 on the Billboard charts without no big company pushing it,” he said.

He added that while Rihanna had not done her breakout single “Umbrella” yet, the artiste was still very famous at the time. He expressed his pride when he got the chance to show her “how its done in Jamaica,” which, up until that point, he had never done with popular artists he had collaborated with. The two worked on the 2005 single “Break It Off”.

The deejay then went on to highlight that his collaboration with Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie for “Rockabye” was also very special because it had hit home.

“Rockabye” is about a single mother who would do anything and sacrifice everything to keep her son safe. As the international Dancehall sensation noted, his mother was also a single mother, and he could therefore relate to the context of the song.

Sean Paul’s mother, who is a painter, raised him in Kingston, Jamaica, primarily as a single mother. Sean attended Wolmer’s Boys’ School and the University of Technology (previously known as the College of Arts, Science, and Technology). He majored in commerce but intended to pursue swimming, which was a family talent, as an occupation. Apparently, that was not his destiny, as he is now considered one of Dancehall’s most prolific and iconic artists ever.

Sean Paul explained that “Rockabye” opened his perspective on songs about ladies, as he had not previously considered doing this type of songs and even questioned why didn’t he think of the idea before being approached by Clean Bandit.

“My mom was a single mom and when they came at me with the song I didn’t even think of doing a song like that so it kind of opened my perspective on songs about ladies,” the dancehall legend explained.

Sean Paul and Jodi Jinx

“I was kinda ashamed I was like why didn’t I think about that?…So that’s a next one and because of them wanting me on the track and also producing Dancehall, to me that was a special thing,” he said.

He added that even though some members of the public say dancehall is “watered down,” he felt that Jamaica’s production, especially during those years, needed to compete with international sounds. The artiste showed gratitude that Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie were willing to take that step with him.

“It was a dope song. It didn’t actually reach number one everywhere, like the Sia (“Cheap Thrills”) did, but it was special to me because of the sentiment in the song,” he said.

Ironically Rockabye stands at 2.5 billion views on YouTube while Cheap Thrills has only 1.6 billion. Either way, Sean is doing some massive numbers online, and his fans are sure that they have a lot more to look forward to from such a legendary artist.