It's been 8 years since Sean Kingston released his last album, and as he readies his new record "Deliverance," the singer speaks with us exclusively about his start on MySpace, his maturity as an artist, and explains how Jay-Z inspired him to build his brand.
There was a time when the summer months were ruled by Sean Kingston. Artists nowadays rush to the studio in hopes of penning the next big summer hit, and while many have succeeded, few of those records have had the longevity of Kingston classics including “Beautiful Girls,” “Take You There,” “Fire Burning,” “Eenie Meenie” with Justin Bieber, or his Natasha Bedingfield collaboration, “Love Like This.”
The Miami-born Jamaican singer burst onto the scene after being discovered on MySpace during a time when artists were first figuring out how to utilize this new thing called an “online presence.” In today’s internet climate, it’s nothing for an aspiring artist to attain hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers who help make them into the next big thing in music, without the aid of a label’s push. Yet, 15 years ago it was a new concept, and while speaking about his upcoming album, Kingston told us in an exclusive interview that being discovered online is something he’s continued to be grateful for, while offering up advice to hopeful artists.
"Be original, stay interesting, stay new. Come up with new ideas, new melodies, new vibes," said Kingston. "I feel like that’s the easiest route because it’s like, everybody’s on their phone nowadays, so basically, you gotta figure out how to come in with something new to capitalize your audience." He called his transition from MySpace to the industry "a blessing," noting that he makes sure to remain connected to his fans and supporters online, albeit now it comes in the form of Instagram comments and DMs.
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The award-winning singer’s fans have relished in those brief moments with Kingston, especially considering it’s been quite some time since he released an album. He’s collaborated with artists like Trippie Redd, Bow Wow, Brandy, Flo Rida, Sean Paul, Nicki Minaj, N.O.R.E., Three 6 Mafia, Bun B, and Juelz Santana—and that’s just as a performer. It was all the way back in 2013 when Kingston dropped off Back 2 Life, and since that time, he tells us he’s been busy working behind the scenes and building his brand.
Yet, this year we’re all set to receive new music from Sean Kingston and he detailed what we can expect. "Basically, the album is called Deliverance," said the singer before he began naming a list of big-time hitmakers that are set to make appearances on the record. I may have exhibited a bit too much excitement, because this is when Kingston’s publicist steps in and lets me know that that information is under wraps until a later date.
But trust me, Kingston isn’t messing around about this comeback.
The lead single from Deliverance is "Darkest Times"—a track featuring G Herbo that was teased with the help of NFL star Antonio Brown—and it arrived at the stroke of midnight Friday (May 21) morning. Prior to its release, the singer shared with us that the inspiration behind the song was drawn from personal experiences. There have been several controversies that have plagued Kingston over the years, including a few legal issues as well as a near-fatal jet-skiing accident back in 2011 that left him hospitalized for weeks and recovering for months.
"It’s basically just me explaining when I’m going through something—whenever somebody go through what they go through, trials and tribulations—[just] having somebody there as your rock and your stone," he explained. "Being there for you through the darkest times."
There have been plenty of opportunities for Kingston to share his story by making that step back into the spotlight, but he wanted to wait until he was ready to reemerge. Still, the question remains: Why now?
"I just feel like the time is now," he said. "I’ve been writing a lot of music behind the scenes. I’ve been writing a lot of hits for a lot of artists…Chris Brown, Lil Mosey. I’ve been writing hits for a lot of people, but I just felt like, now is the time for me to come back, for me to tell my story again, for me to get—I just feel like the world is in such a…with COVID and everything that’s going on, they need feel-good music."
"I’ve been writing a lot of music behind the scenes. I’ve been writing a lot of hits for a lot of artists…Chris Brown, Lil Mosey. I’ve been writing hits for a lot of people, but I just felt like, now is the time for me to come back, for me to tell my story again, for me to get— I just feel like the world is in such a…with COVID and everything that’s going on, they need feel-good music."
And feel-good music is something that Kingston is well-versed in, with his pop hits poised for heavy streaming numbers. However, it’s obvious that Kingston isn’t the same man he was when he shared his last project, and that is something that listeners are going to experience with this next record. On Deliverance, expect to hear Kingston’s maturation both vocally and lyrically. He explained that he’s "gotten wiser with knowledge" and wants fans to hear how he’s continued to develop, even as he’s been diligently continuing his career behind the scenes.
"I’ve been around the world four or five times so I definitely understand how to conduct myself as far as moving forward when I’m writing songs or just with everything," Kingston shared. He seemed to suggest that when he was younger, he carried a different artistic approach when it came to creating music. "It was still genuine because I have always been that type of person—but it was kind of, me rushing into things, but now, it’s very much more laid back, much more mature. My sound has matured, the way my melodies are now, everything is on a wider level."
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While Kingston is considered a veteran and icon in the industry, he still draws from advice he’s received from others that came before him. When you’re like Kingston and have a career working with the best of the best, you’re often placed in positions to receive a level of guidance that not many else can afford. There are plenty of memorable moments with influential figures housed in Sean Kingston’s memory bank, but he shared wise words he received from Jay-Z that he still follows until this day.
"I met Jay-Z in Dubai and me and Jay-Z was chopping it up and he told me, ‘No matter what you do, just keep going. Keep God first,’" Kingston recalls Hov telling him. "Just stay at it, whether it’s music or business ideas or real estate or whatever. Just keep capitalizing and becoming a better person—and I feel like that’s always stuck with me."
With “Darkest Times” comes the official rollout season for Deliverance, but don’t expect Kingston to get extra flashy with the release of this project, even with words of wisdom from Hova in his back pocket. Humility is something that the singer holds near, and he isn’t looking to put on airs just because he may have a few plaques on his walls and awards on his shelves.
"I feel like a lot of the songs that’s coming out—no disrespect to nobody but, we wanna hear more concepts. We wanna hear more deep songs and I feel like now is the time. I just felt it. I had a talk with God and the time is now. I have a new deal with Empire and we ready to go, full force."
"I’m just normal. I don’t really care about the jewelry. I don’t care about none of that stuff," said the singer. "I feel like a lot of the songs that’s coming out—no disrespect to nobody but, we wanna hear more concepts," he added. “We wanna hear more deep songs and I feel like now is the time. I just felt it. I had a talk with God and the time is now. I have a new deal with Empire and we ready to go, full force.”
Stream “Darkest Times” below and make sure to check back with us about Sean Kingston's forthcoming album, Deliverance.