Sean Kingston is the quintessential rags-to-riches story. He burst on the pop-music scene in 2007 with the surprise success of Beautiful Girls, a single that topped the Billboard charts for three weeks, powered by its sample of Ben E. King's classic song Stand By Me.
The 20-year-old singer/songwriter has endured his share of tough times -- he was born in Miami, moved to Jamaica when he was 5, and ended up living in his car after moving back to the Magic City to pursue his dream. He hit it big, then followed up that success by co-writing Jason Derulo's massive hit Whatcha Say. Catch Kingston Thursday at the BankAtlantic Center opening for the white-hot pop sensation Justin Bieber, with whom he recorded the track Eeenie Meenie.
Kingston took the time to talk about his tour with The Miami Herald:
Q: What can we expect Thursday?
A: I have a 50-minute set, and it's one of those deep celebration sets with a lot of energy and a lot of feel-good music, hands in the air, like a rock star just partying.
Q: You were born in Miami. What are some of your favorite hangouts?
A: South Beach is always nice, and the Grove. I like to go to Boca -- Boca has a nice mall. I like to go to Muvico, the Hard Rock -- I don't gamble or nothing like that, but the clubs are pretty nice. Wherever they let me in is where I'm at.
Q: How grateful are you for your success?
A: It's just a blessing. I'm very grateful, man. It's kind of like one of those things where I've been dreaming of this all my life, and it's finally opened up, that big break when I was 17. Now it's just about keeping it up and staying relevant and continuing to make great music,
Q: Were you surprised by how big ``Beautiful Girls'' got?
A: It wasn't really that much of a surprise due to the fact that I kind of knew how great the song was. I just didn't know it would pick up that fast.
Q: With "`Whatcha Say,'' did you guys know you had a big hit?
A: Yeah, with that, definitely, because of the sample and the production and the melody and where music was right now. I knew as soon as people heard that, they'd fall in love with it.
Q: How do you choose what songs to sample?
A: I'm really about doing stuff that's never been done before. Nobody ever used the Ben E. King beat and chopped it up. Nobody ever used Led Zeppelin or those types of things, creating it and making it your own.
-- MICHAEL HAMERSLY