These Are Sean Paul’s 8 Best Collaborations

He’s worked with pretty much everyone, but we think these team-ups are the best.

July 13, 2016
These Are Sean Paul’s 8 Best Collaborations Frazer Harrison/Eamonn M. McCormack/Chris Weeks/Brad Barket/Frank Micelotta/Frederick M. Brown/Scott Gries / Getty Images

Sean Paul has an impressive solo career, but a major contributor to the Jamaican artist's path to global success has been his affinity for collaborations. Sean Paul has worked with a ridiculous range of artists, from fellow countrymen like Konshens and Damian Marley, to reggaeton acts Pitbull and Farruko, and R&B stars such as Kelly Rowland and Jay Sean. He's even guested on a track by the Canadian pop-punk band, Simple Plan. It's a savvy move; one that keeps his voice on the radio in regional and global pop markets — and it's also produced some pretty inspired music.

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As part of #SeanPaulWeek, The FADER's staff sifted through 16 years worth of music and came up with a shortlist of Sean Paul's eight best collaborations.

1. Beenie Man Ft. Sean Paul & Lady Saw, "Bossman" (2002)

Before Drake, there was Sean Paul — a so-called “uptown boy” whose hit-filled career was occasionally marred by questions about his authenticity. On the Beenie Man single “Bossman,” Sean Paul threw criticisms of his identity to the wind, joining Beenie and Lady Saw in the ultimate badman proclamation. The track, produced by the Neptunes, mashes up three hard verses, multiple hooks, and Pharrell and Chad’s signature cold-as-ice sounds into a club thumper that should’ve been a way bigger hit than it was. — RAWIYA KAMEIR

2. Sean Paul Ft. Keyshia Cole, "(When You Gonna) Give It Up To Me" (2006)

I definitely did not fully understand this song’s meaning when it came out (even while belting it all over the house, and in the car as my mom drove me to soccer practice). But it remains a very important time-traveling tool when reflecting on my own pre-teen years.

From the starting punches of strings, I’m transported back to the moment the local indoor ice-skating rink would darken, multi-colored laser beam lights would shoot out onto the freshly-Zamboni'd ice, and awkward, hormonal/emotional youngins would hit the rink. Our birthday party girl squads “accidentally” bumped into the corresponding “randomly there” dude crew for lighthearted early flirt seshes. Faux-romance was in the air, as was Sean Paul’s voice, making all encounters slightly daunting but super mischievous and thrilling.

Many Sean Paul songs soundtracked these early, crush-filled times, but the fact that Keyshia Cole is on this one (following the release of “Love,” which literally changed my life), made “(When You Gonna) Give It Up To Me” that much more of a classic boy-girl, back-and-forth, young & fake-in-love anthem. — NAZUK KOCHHAR

3. Blu Cantrell Ft. Sean Paul, "Breathe" (2003)

In the summer of 2003, R&B singer Blu Cantrell's duet with Sean Paul, "Breathe," spent four weeks at No.1 in the U.K. charts. It was ostensibly a remix (a solo version featured on Cantrell's Bittersweet album) but it’s Paul's tunnel-vision responses that lent Cantrell’s song weight. Say you want to leave cuz this relationship failin', he flexed on the bridge. Ain't’ nobody say that it would be smooth sailin'/ Girl I want to know why you’re bailin'. The song worked because Paul played his part — the annoying ex that won’t quit — to a tee. Cantrell wanted to breathe (When love hurts, it won't work/ Maybe we need some time alone) but Paul quite literally won’t give her the space, relegating her to the chorus. It’s that relatable tension that makes “Breathe” a gem, and still so relevant over a decade later. — RUTH SAXELBY

4. DMX Ft. Sean Paul & Mr. Vegas, "Here Comes The Boom (Top Shotta)" (1998)

Anyone who knows anything knows that Hype Williams's Nas and DMX-led crime drama Belly is one of the greatest movies of all time, and that means everything associated with it is, by default, also brilliant. This includes the soundtrack, which is a snapshot of the jiggy era; slick tracks by some of the best lyricists of the day. "Here Comes The Boom (Top Shotta)," wasn't just bouncy filler — DMX's partnership with Mr. Vegas and a fledging Sean Paul proved, like his foray into acting, that the pious, gruff-voiced rapper was ahead of his time. The track's dank bassline throttled the frames of Honda Civic and Acura Integra hatchbacks from Toronto to Miami. "Top Shotta" bridged worlds — hip-hop and dancehall, nothern hemisphere and south — and was a precursor to dancehall's brief, but crucial, mainstream crossover from the late '90s through the early aughts. — ANUPA MISTRY

5. Sean Paul Ft. Mr. Vegas, "Tiger Bone" (2000)

Pop musicians who sample classic dancehall riddims for present-day smashes pervade the charts in 2016. The near-inverse of this — musicians outside of the mainstream interpolating current hits into their songs —is an exciting and perhaps even revolutionary act. "Tiger Bone," a track from Sean Paul's debut Stage One, is one such song. It featured Mr. Vegas on the hook interpolating Enrique Iglesias's 1999 hit "Bailamos," as a tribute to sexual prowess fueled by rare, unethical tonics. What Iglesias barely hinted at to titillate housewives and placate censors, "Tiger Bone" amplified into a sweaty, erotic roar. With it's own rhythm it doesn't so much snatch the crown from "Bailamos," as create a new kingdom. — JORDAN DARVILLE

6. Beyoncé Ft. Sean Paul, "Baby Boy" (2003)

Nobody else picked "Baby Boy" because it's so obvious, but lemme tell you something: I am about nothing if not hitting the ball 450 feet square up the goddamn middle. The Tyrese Gibson film Baby Boy is the greatest film of all time. A baby boy is a thing that brings joy to millions. And "Baby Boy" is very clearly the best ... ah, just put the damn song on already! Certified quality. — AMOS BARSHAD

7. Little Mix Ft. Sean Paul, "Hair" (2016)

Sean Paul's storied history of guest verses shows there's almost no genre or song he can't sprinkle his magic on, but in 2016 he still managed to surprise us. British pop group Little Mix have one of their most solid singles ever in the douchebag boyfriend call-out anthem "Hair," and Paul landed on just the right side of bizarre when he FaceTimed into the song to play the role of said lovable douche. If there were such a thing as "guilty pleasures" I'd admit to this being one, but actually, I just love it. — AIMEE CLIFF

8. R. Kelly Ft. Sean Paul & Akon, "Slow Wind (Remix)" (2005)

Although Sean Paul is a man of all seasons — the video for "Temperature" proves that quite nicely — he's undeniable in warmer weather. On the remix to this R. Kelly jam, we found our hero sandwiched between a limber Kells vocal and a breezy Akon verse. He was the anchor. It's been a candidate for song of the summer every year since 2005. — MYLES TANZER

From The Collection:

Sean Paul Week
These Are Sean Paul’s 8 Best Collaborations