Being a versatile musician can be a gift and a curse.
American-Jamaican singer Sean Kingston has experienced the highs and lows of being an artist adept at so many music genres the industry has found it difficult to market him effectively.
Speaking to The National in the midst of a US tour, Kingston admits to having tried a little too hard to satisfy the masses.
"Being able to do different things may have confused people," he says.
"This is except for my core fan base who know I love feel-good reggae, pop music and they know I can rap. But at the end of the day, I know some of these things are not really my lane."
Guided by fans
Hence the importance of Kingston’s latest single, Ocean Drive.
Featuring RnB star Chris Brown, it's a care-free summer jam laced with reggae-lite melodies and percolating rhythms of Afro-pop.
Kingston says the new song aims to capture the euphoric and nostalgic vibes responsible for his biggest hits Beautiful Girls (2007) and Fire Burning (2009).
He also confirms the new material will feature in an EP called Road to Deliverance, out later this year, followed by a full-length album, Deliverance.
The connecting titles, he says, epitomises the studio experience.
"I was working hard and trying hard to discover what it is I do and what I am good at and what works best for me,” Kingston says.
“The fans are really important here because they will tell me what they want, especially now, after going through the pandemic is to experience that nostalgia and hearing songs that brought them back to the first time they heard my music."
Reconnecting with Justin Bieber
Some of those throwback vibes may include finally releasing Our World, a mixtape he recorded with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber more than a decade ago.
Kingston announced the record in 2010 by previewing some of the tracks on streaming platform Ustream, but it was never finished or released.
With both artists’ careers having taken off since, Kingston says the duo still have the desire to work together to finish what they started.
"We did about seven or eight songs that are fully completed and what happened was he got busy and I got caught up as well," he says.
"But I think we are going to do it because every time I see Justin he's like 'bro, we need to go back in the studio like the old days.' So I think we'll be able to tap into something real soon.”
However their chemistry might be, it will be markedly different to what was channelled in the studio more than 10 years ago.
While marred with some controversy, Bieber’s career went from strength to strength and he is presently on another massive world tour that lands in Dubai in October.
Meanwhile, Kingston found minor yet consistent success in the charts, but his life was nearly cut short in 2011 when he was involved in a jet ski accident, followed weeks later by emergency open-heart surgery.
Kingston describes the incidents as a wake-up call.
"When you go through that kind of trauma you can't help but reflect about life and on how to move forward," he says.
"I am much more patient now, more chilled and laid-back. Instead of being impulsive and saying let's do this now, I take a step back and think it over and ask myself if this is something I should really be doing."
With Kingston adding more dates to his tour, including two European concerts in Cardiff, Wales and Manchester, England on August 30 and September 3, respectively, he hopes a UAE show can also be part of the mix.
"Man I love it down there because every time I am back it I feel like I am back in Jamaica," he says.
"The people treat me like I am home and they are loving and caring. You can't help but have a great time.