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How to succeed in music without a dirty mouth

TEENAGER Sean Kingston became an overnight global success with "Beautiful Girls" when he was just 17. Two years later he still blends rap, reggae, pop and doo-wop ?? without profanity, reports Yao Minji.

The name Kisean Anderson may sound unfamiliar to night animals in Shanghai, and the name Sean Kingston may ring a distant bell. But when you hear the melody and famous lyrics of "Beautiful Girls," you're likely to think, "Hey, I know him. I love that song."

The 19-year-old overnight star wanted a stage name that "represents my music, my heritage and me." Hence, Sean comes from his first name Kisean and Kingston his cultural and musical heritage ?? capital of Jamaica in the Caribbean, where he grew up since he was six years old.

The Miami-born singer has created a refreshing vibe with his skillful blending of rap, reggae, pop and doo-wop. His first single, "Colors," was a good start and the second one, "Beautiful Girls," pushed him to stardom overnight.

The irresistible and sexy song reached No. 1 on numerous rankings, including the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. It's based on the bass line of lyrical "association" of the 1961 hit "Stand By Me" by Ben King.

It remained No. 1 in Canada longer than any other song in 2007. And the gritty/party anthem vibe also made the song a standard in clubs all over the world before the then-17-year-old turned the legal drinking/clubbing age.

Party animals in Shanghai, as elsewhere, love that song. It doesn't matter whether the place is packed with young locals or expats.

And the 19-year-old overnight star took his unique love music to Shanghai on Valentine's Day last Saturday at M1nt on Fuzhou Road. Kingston did a mini-concert as a M1nt member and featured performer of the club's Valentine's events. Shortly before he came out around midnight, the huge space was packed and many more who failed to squeeze in waited outside.

One of the world's fastest-developing music markets, Shanghai has hosted many big names for concerts, promotions and commercial events. Thousands of singers, movie stars and DJs have showed up in stadiums, department stores, night clubs, and other venues.

Three years ago, locals and expats were thrilled to hear the news that the Rolling Stones would throw a concert. Now, it is difficult to impress them, whoever decides to come.

On the other hand, most working-the-way-to-fame singers haven't made a major stop in the city. Naturally and traditionally, they establish and reinforce their domestic markets before going on world tours. Commonly, tours include the United States, Canada, many stops in Europe and maybe a few cities in Japan or Hong Kong, at the most.

Only a few new faces are willing to take on Shanghai, though it is only a two hours' flight from Tokyo or Hong Kong. They worry about the reception and possibilities - the strong mainstream market for the big names doesn't inspire confidence.

Kingston is an exception. He tried it and loved it, and the city loved him back. M1nt was red for Valentine's Day and Kingston showed up after diamond fashion shows and dance time.

"I love Chinese culture, Chinese people and most of all, Chinese food. We definitely want to come back for more shows, definitely want to bring more of my music to the place," Kingston told Shanghai Daily, before heading to his next gig in Tokyo.

"I love the crowds. They are actually even more passionate than those back home. They respond a lot to the music. Just love it."

His company Beluga Heights (he's the premier artist) definitely doesn't regret contacting M1nt for show possibilities and prospects for selling Kingston's second album in China look good, too.

The album "Tomorrow" will be released worldwide in May or June. He also sang a major song "War" from the album in the Shanghai show.

He has matured his unique style with some new elements, but the theme hasn't changed much from his first album "Sean Kingston." It's about love and relationships, heritage and family.

Though more and more people worldwide are falling in love with hip-hop, rappers and rap lyrics have sparked the biggest debates for years - over vulgarity. And the teen Kingston is right in the middle of this controversial issue.

He is impressively different. He has proved you can tell the story in a cool way without using profanity.

"With this album (the first one), I thought it was important to not use curse words or negative language that might offend people," Kingston said earlier. "I write my own songs so it's like if I can write a great track without using those words, then that's the style for me."

"As an artist, my whole goal is to make powerful and classic album. I want everyone to feel my music and understand my heritage and that's what this album will do."

Without curse words or pessimism, Kingston still manages to tell a good story that appeals to millions. Both his first album and "Beautiful Girls" made one of the fastest ascents up the charts. Kingston sold more than 3 million digital singles and more than 3 million ringtones.

Awards, nominations and gig invitations just poured in.

Kingston says his success comes partly from three persistent messages a day. After he moved back to Miami, he got on the social networking Website MySpace and found the homepage of up-and-coming producer J.R. Rotem.

Determined to get a reply, Kingston sent Rotem three messages a day, persisting until the producer invited him for a meeting in LA. There was chemistry, and the whole magic started.

Even Kingston is surprised by the skyrocket to stardom, despite his impressive musical bloodline. Kingston's uncle is the iconic reggae artist Buju Banton and his grandfather the legendary Jack "L. Lindo" Ruby, producer of Bob Marley.

Though the teen says he's not stressed out, he is clearly concerned about his career development and his upcoming second album "Tomorrow."

"This album is really important for me. I've devoted a lot of time and energy to writing the songs and recording. It will brand my career as a professional artist who will last long," says Kingston.

He advises newcomers to the industry to stay "confident, original and persistent."


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