I have a confession to make – when I was in my late teens, early twenties, I was totally obsessed with Jay Sean. Not the Jay Sean you’ve most likely heard of – the Cash Money Records guy with big muscles singing club/pop tracks. No, the Jay Sean I fell in love with was a skinny, spiky haired R&B crooner who beat boxed and sang songs that more resembled Musiq Soulchild than Jason Derulo.
That Jay Sean came from the British-Asian underground movement that encompassed names like Apache Indian, Panjabi MC and of course Rishi Rich, Juggy D, and Veronica – who made up the Rishi Rich Project. Rishi Rich in fact produced Jay’s first album and gave his music the Indian/Bhangra fusion touch Rich is so famous for.
It’s this Jay Sean that I interviewed and wrote about numerous times as a journalist and it’s this Jay Sean’s first album that I fell in love with. Me Against Myself was a amazing for a Fijian Indian girl living in the States. An Indian guy singing in English with the fusion of hip hop and Indian/Bhangra music, signed to a major UK record label. It may have been the norm for Indian kids in the UK, but in America, we had nothing like it. The Indian/English fusion was ground breaking and done in just the right way without sounding like a novelty.
Forgetting all that, the music was damn good. I don’t know how many times I blasted Dance With You featuring Juggy D in my car. The English/Punjabi track was so infectious. Not only that, it was such a quality album with Jay Sean battling his two personas at times – the rapper/beatboxer influenced by hip hop versus the R&B crooner. It was also completely honest and introspective with social commentary as well – all things that are missing in this new Jay Sean’s music.
For this song of the day I chose One Minute. For me, this track most encompasses the artist Jay Sean always said he was. An R&B singer inspired by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Musiq Soulchild. One Minute is a smooth track about the ups and downs of love. I often caught myself grooving to the beat without even knowing it, and his voice sounds so silky.
So while I know artists have to change and evolve, this is the Jay Sean I loved, and it’s the one I hope he finds again now that he’s no longer selling his soul with Cash Money Records.