Sean Kingston Encourages Fans to ‘Party as One’ at ‘Back 2 Life’ Listening Session
“Let’s give it up for L.A. Reid,” shouts Sean Kingston when he takes the microphone at No. 8 in New York City during the listening session for his third album, ‘Back 2 Life,' Wednesday night (Aug. 21). Sean is visibly humbled, not only by the head of Epic Records' presence, but as he puts it, “for him to give me another chance.” He mentions that he’s “been through some trails and tribulations.” The pop-reggae artist is obviously alluding to his jet ski accident in 2011, which sent him to an intensive care unit and left him with a broken jaw and other injuries.
However, Sean's fully recovered and his positive energy definitely leaks into all of the tracks on ‘Back 2 Life,’ a summer-influenced album made to vibe to, dance to and blast through your speakers. The opening title track, produced by J.R. Rotem, samples Soul II Soul’s ‘Back to Life (However Do You Want Me),’ a nod to the party the project’s about to embark on.
The listening session was far from intimate at No. 8 as music industry associates milled about and champagne buckets were flowing. Essentially, ‘Back 2 Life’ is to be played in this kind of dance-in-the-dark atmosphere coupled with the sentiment of good club vibes. ‘Bomba,’ for example, rides a guitar introduction and fluxes into a Middle Eastern feel.
Featured rappers on the effort are solid. Yo Gotti throws his Memphis style raps over ‘Hold That,’ a track that Sean refers to as “ratchet” when introducing it. Even 2 Chainz jumps on ‘Shotta Love’ for the catchy, looped hook. ‘Seasonal Love,’ featuring Wale, plays out like a remake from The-Dream's 'Love/Hate' album, and, though it’s one of the underwhelming tracks on the album, it's catchy.
The star track of the night, apparent by it’s encore play, was the Busta Ryhmes-featured ‘How We Survive.’ The energy shifted upon playing the track, which finds Sean singing, “We party as one, this is how we survive.” The rapid bass beat overlapped with sirens can actually be Sean’s big moment on radio if released as a single. If anything, it’s probably his best record yet.
With this album, Sean demonstrates a keen talent in making hook-heavy records, and it makes ‘Back 2 Life’ a great pop album. Songs like ‘Smoke Signal’ and ‘Ayo (16th Floor) are clear indications of that.
The grooves and melodies are contagious and the tracks all meld together. It’s clear that what Sean wants to do is get people to move and dance. When the entertainer introduces ‘Save One For Me,’ he makes sure to offer a reminder as well. “I'm single ladies and back on the market,” Sean states. He’s back for sure, and they better be ready to dance.