Producer J.R. Rotem gives his protégé permission to reach out to Timbaland, Pharrell for sophomore LP.
NEW YORK — Sean Kingston may be Miami-born, but sitting in a director's chair on the Brooklyn set of his latest video, "There's Nothin'," he's looking like the young King of New York. Biggie Smalls, that is, not Christopher Walken — just to be clear.
And apparently, Kingston, besides bearing a resemblance to the BK Don, is also connected like the legendary MC. For the track, the fourth single from his self-titled debut, the reggae-pop crooner said he personally reached out to Juelz Santana to be on the remix.
"Yessir, called him up direct, hit him up on the Sidekick and let him know like, 'Yo, you gotta be on this record,' " Kingston told MTV News recently from the video set. Santana answered and hopped right on the track, which originally featured Paula DeAnda.
"I wanted to come out and show Sean Kingston some love," Santana said. "I feel like he came in the game real strong, looks like he has a bright career in the game, so any way I could show a helping hand and just help out in any way, I was there to do it. So that's why we here; we getting busy."
DeAnda appears on the original version of the song, but Kingston said he called Rihanna, Ciara and Keyshia Cole for the remix. He didn't have as much luck that time, though.
Eventually, he and the label settled on Élan Luz of the D.E.Y., the bilingual trio who broke out recently with their hit "Give You the World," produced by J.R. Rotem, who also helmed "There's Nothin'."
"It's cool to be in the same family and go, 'Hey, I got an idea: Élan,' " the singer exclaimed. " 'Come fly over here to L.A., record this song and we're gonna make it a hit, baby.' "
"Having Luz involved is big for us, because it's a stepping-stone," her groupmate Divine said. "Sean Kingston is a big artist, our labelmate, and we're excited to see her shining on the remix."
The track, Kingston explained, is another heart-wrenching song about teen love. But this time it ends much better than his "Beautiful Girls" — and he's speaking from experience.
"I been with a girl before where it's been the relationship going smooth, that there's nothing in the world that can stop me from going out with you," Kingston said of the origins of the song. "Not my mom, not nobody, 'cause the way I feel, how I feel, is crazy. You the best one, you a dime piece, and nobody can stop it."
Next up for Kingston, who recently celebrated his 18th birthday, is prepping his sophomore album. He said he wanted to reach out to other producers, beyond Rotem, who exclusively produced his debut. Kingston said Rotem begrudgingly gave him the OK to reach out to the likes of Timbaland, Scott Storch, Pharrell and Polow da Don.
"He was kind of a little bit tough about it, but he's happy for me," Kingston said. "J.R. is an awesome guy. If you think about it, I'm still J.R.'s protégé. I'm still Mr. Beluga Heights, I'm still Mr. 'Beautiful Girls.' Nothing is gonna change. I just wanna go for a different sound."