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Kingston electrifies M1NT crowd

SEAN Kingston energized a crowd of more than 400 at Shanghai's M1NT club at 1am after a big warm-up by a DJ from his troupe.

By 11pm last Wednesday, the dance floor was already packed with a mixed crowd of expats, teenagers and locals, following the lead of the warm-up DJ and cheered by a lineup of club favorites like "Bottoms Up."

They started yelling for Kingston, the kid who rose to sudden stardom with the hit song "Beautiful Girls," recorded when he was only 17. Today he's 20.

Since then the Jamaican-American rapper stayed on top as the guy who innovatively combines rap, reggae and pop. Kingston released his second album "Tomorrow" late last year and is currently working on his third.

He performed at M1NT about the same time last year, in his first show on the Chinese mainland. He totally elevated the wildness level among all the party-goers, leading to his return gig and second show.

This time, the show turned out to be an even bigger success as the crowds were already dancing with abandon when Kingston started off with newer songs like "Take You There" and "Dutty Love."

When he moved on to hits like "Eenie Meenie" (his collaboration with teenie heartthrob Justin Bieber) and "Fire Burning," his latest hit, the crowds went wild with physicality. He definitely knows how to rev up the crowds, whether they are Chinese or Westerners.

Kingston supplemented the set, short yet stimulating, with club favorites from other artists including "Rude Boy," "Rock Your Body" and "Hotel Room Serve."

During the break, he signed a dozen towels and tossed them out to the crowd, who screamed at his every gesture.

The high point came when Kingston started the acoustic version of "Beautiful Girls," the song that established his career.

"I'm not only a rapper, singer and songwriter anymore, but also a successful businessman in this industry," Kingston told Shanghai Daily right before going on stage.


Three years ago, Kingston was discovered by his producer on the Internet through MySpace. Two years ago, he made his own headhunt on MySpace and found Iyaz and signed him. A year ago, he helped Iyaz to debut with "Replay," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, demonstrating Kingston's talent to recognize other talents.

"I'm young, but I'm not that same young kid who first entered this field. I've got many experts working around me, and I've learned from them," he says confidently while sitting in the middle of the experts and the talents he discovered.

"I know how this industry works, and I've got my own eye for talent, my own artists, and I'm confident about their talent," he adds.

Compared with his last Shanghai appearance, Kingston did appear much more mature in the style of a businessman. And he showed genuine pleasure when asked whether he would be the next Usher, who not only built a successful musician's career, but also earned a reputation for scouting other talents.

"Well, I do hope I will," he says, "and I will be honored to."


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