Jamaica’s Sean Paul returns to the dancehall throne, and expectations are high with A-list featured guests on the album representing various facets of the music industry. Paul dropped his eighth full-length studio album and Island Records debut, Scorcha, on May 27.
Scorcha provides a party blueprint for the weekend, led by the single “Light My Fire” with Gwen Stefani and Shenseea. The new album also includes previously released songs “Scorcha,” “Only Fanz” (ft. Ty Dolla $ign), “Dynamite” (ft. Sia), “How We Do It” (ft. Pia Mia), and “No Fear” (ft. Damian Marley and Nicky Jam).
Paul recently earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Reggae Album for his seventh studio album Live N Livin, which was released last year, after winning a Grammy Award for Dutty Rock in 2013. While Live N Livin was more of straight heavy dancehall, he’s honing in on a club vibe this time around.
High Times caught up with Paul inside Fingerprints Music, located on 420 East 4th Street in Long Beach, California, before his performance later that night at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.
“It’s not really a formula,” Paul told High Times, referring to his methods in the studio. “It’s just what feels good at the time. Last year was more hardcore danchall feeling, and this year’s more of a scotch feeling, you know what I mean. I’m feeling to touch the clubs with it, but also there is some growth on the album on some introspective songs. I think people should enjoy it, bro.”
He’s upping the ante with Pia Mia and Stefani to spice things up. “How We Do It” showcases Pia Mia’s skills with a club banger and a watery music video to go with it. In “Light my Fire” Stefani asks to “take me higher,” boosted with Shenseea’s vocals, providing a nice dancehall flavor.
“A wholly good production—a lot of dope artists on there,” Paul said. “From Sia to Pia Mia, Gwen Stefani to Shenseea, Nicky Jam, Stylo G, and Jada Kingdom, Tove Lo, Ty Dolla $ign. Lots of great performances on there. It’s also just a lot of energy. You know what I mean.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Paul witnessed the illicit side of cannabis within his own family early on. His father was deported from the U.S. after crashing a cannabis cargo plane in the Everglades in 1982—one of the ways High Times founder Tom Forçade made money before going into publishing.
Nowadays, licensed distributors are commonplace. On the legal side, Paul warned that typical dispensary weed “tastes like cardboard.” That’s why he’s very selective about the dispensaries he goes to, including Lemonnade (a Cookies dispensary brand).
“So what me a smoke ‘pon?!” Paul asked with a huge grin as he rubbed his hands together. “Every’ting from a version of what Lemonnade gave me. Big up Steve Lobell. As well as KushCo. and all of dem people. They treat me good around here. Me and dem try to develop a strain. Right now they have something called White Truffle OG. Which is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad stinky.”
“That’s what I’m blazing on,” Paul said.
High Times recently interviewed Lobell inside the Lemonnade Van Nuys location. Lobell has been a music executive for over 35 years, working with everybody in hip-hop and related genres from Run-D.M.C., Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Nipsey Hussle, Three 6 Mafia, Eazy-E, The Outlaws, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and so on. Lobell launched Lemonnade with Berner, which falls under the Cookies brand.
If you’re curious about the strain, White Truffle OG appeared recently on Instagram from accounts like Michigan-based Frost Farms, and it appears to have made its way to California.
Be sure to check out Scorcha via Island Records and see how Paul is taking over the clubs once again.