Sean Paul spent his early years "comfortably" in Upper Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica. His parents were both talented athletes, and his mother a well-known painter. Paul has multiracial origins. He is the son of a Jewish father (whose Portuguese family emigrated to Jamaica in the 17th century) and Chinese-Jamaican mother. In line with his Sephardi heritage, he was a pupil at the island’s Hillel Academy, a non-religious school
funded by the local Jewish community. Asked about his background, he quotes:
"My grandmother on my mother's side was born in Coventry, England, but the rest of my grandparents were Jamaican in origin. My mother's father, however, is Chinese and my father's father is from Portuguese descent. My grandmother on my father's side is mixed with black and white."
Many of Paul's family are swimmers. His grandfather was on the first Jamaican men's national water polo team. His father also played water polo for the team in the 1960s, and competed in long-distance swimming, while Paul's mother was a backstroke swimmer. Paul played for the national water polo team from the age of thirteen to
twenty-one. However, he quit to launch his musical career.
Dancehall music was Paul's first love, and he became proficient at crafting rhythm tracks. He became a deejay after writing his own songs, basing his style largely on the works of Super Cat and Don Yute. The latter was later to become his idol and mentor. Paul was closely connected to the reggae-pop band Third World. His brother, Jason 'Jigzag' Henriques, helped him open up business connections. Paul released his debut single "Baby Girl (Don't Cry)" with producer Jeremy Harding in 1996. It proved a significant success, and led to further Jamaican hits like "Nah Get No Bly (One More Try)," "Deport Them," "Excite Me," "Infiltrate," and "Hackle Mi."
In 1999, Paul started to attract audiences in the United States. He was commissioned to collaborate with fellow dancehall hitmaker Mr. Vegas on a production for rapper DMX,
entitled "Top Shotter". The song went on to be included in the film Belly (dir. Hype Williams). Paul also recorded the Jamaican chart-topper "Ladies Man" with rapper Spanner Banner, through the latter's label, Sweet Angel Productions. The success of "Ladies Man" resulted in Paul being approached by the then little-known Harding, who burst on the scene with his production of Beenie Man's crossover hit "Who Am I" and most famously recorded "Baby Girl (Don't Cry)" with Paul. The following single, "Infiltrate," joined the singer's combination hit in the Jamaican top charts. Also that year,
Paul scored a top ten hit on the Billboard Rap chart with "Hot Gal Today," which quickly became his signature tune. Paul fell out very publicly with Mr. Vegas over the packaging of Vegas' remix of "Hot Gal Today," but this did not slow Paul's career momentum.
He played the Summer Jam 2000 in New York City, where he was held in high acclaim. Sean's fan-base grew tremendously with fans from all over the world. In August 2000, Paul released his first album, Stage One, on VP Records, which included many of his previous hit singles and compilation cuts, plus several new tracks. In 2001, Sean Paul appeared on Baby Blue's album, Private Party, and its first single, "Money Jane," which also featured Kardinal Offishall, and Jully Black.
Two years later, he announced the release of his second album, Dutty Rock. Pushed by the success of the singles "Gimme the Light" and the Billboard Hot 100 topper, "Get Busy," the album was a worldwide success, eventually selling over six million copies. Simultaneously, Paul was heard on Beyoncé's single "Baby Boy" and Blu Cantrell's "Breathe," both chart hits in 2003, and helping to push his reputation further still in the United States.
He then appeared on Punk'd, 106 & Park, Sean Paul Respect, Making The Video (Get
Busy, Gimme The Light, Like Glue, We Be Burnin' and Temperature) and his music videos have been broadcast on MTV and BET. Paul's biggest hits include Get
Busy, Gimme The Light, Baby Boy, Temperature, and Give It Up To Me (feat. Keyshia Cole). On September 27, 2005, Henriques released his third album called The Trinity.
Paul spent part of 2006 opening for Mariah Carey's Adventures of Mimi Tour; his stage patter during these shows was almost exclusively directed towards "all the sexy young ladies in the house." The Trinity was a solid success sold about 3.8 million copies worldwide. Sean Paul started work on his fourth album in September 2006 and currently features on the single "Break it Off" with Rihanna, on her A Girl Like Me album. This track is part of a 'riddim set'- a group of artists singing on the same rhythmic base. He intends to include more "politically minded" songs in his fourth album, to be released in spring of 2007. Sean Paul's best-selling album to date is his second release, Dutty Rock (2002).
See you in Jamaica.