Found in translation (originally published September 2010)
America and England are two countries separated by the same language, they say. But when it comes to urban rap pop, UK English is becoming the language of choice in the States.
Mark Beaumont tracks the course of the latest British invasion across the pond.
Jay Sean, America must have thought, was a one-off – the first male Brit of Asian origin ever to sign to an American label, Cash Money Records. The 2008 deal was a tokenistic move for a largely hip-hop company, some might have argued.
Then his debut US single Down started breaking records.
It sold three million downloads in the US alone (six million worldwide) in summer 2009, making Sean the most successful European urban act in American chart history and the first solo UK singer to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Elton John’s Candle In The Wind in 1997.
Breaking The US Top Ten – Twice
A flash in the pan, America probably told itself, heated by the Lil Wayne guest slot or the gratuitous beefcake shots of a topless Jay in the video.
But then his follow-up Do You Remember, featuring Sean Paul and Lil Jon, sold over a million and also hit the high end of the Billboard chart.
Jay was now the first male act to break the US Top Ten with his first two singles since Chingy in 2003. America had to admit that this particular Brit was beating them at their own slick, vocodered rap-pop game. Surely, he’d be the only one?