The 30th annual Billboard Latin Music Awards ceremony, slated for October 5 in Coral Gables, Florida, will see Dancehall megastar Sean Paul contend for his first-ever Billboard Latin Music Award in the Crossover Artist of the Year category.
He will be up against fellow nominees Justin Timberlake, Lil Jon, Marshmello and Maitré Gims.
The well-deserved nod, Paul told DancehallMag, is the result of an intentional and long-running desire to ‘bridge the gap’ with his Latin fan base.
“I was digging deep to try to connect with my Latin fans and that’s really all that is,” he said, adding that the fan base was huge, and that he needed to make consistent efforts to strengthen their connection.
“I come from Jamaica where we speak broken English, especially in my songs, so,” he explained, “I try to bridge that gap or make the connection stronger with my Latin fans. [That’s why] I try to do, you know, a couple words or a hook in Spanish every now and then.”
He added: “Within the last year, I’ve been gravitating more towards that Latin community, just to reach out and have them feeling closer to my career and music. This year alone, I’ve been able to do quite a few songs in the Latin community.”
Paul, whose career spans 30 years as one of Dancehall’s most commercially successful artists, received the nomination for Crossover Artist of the Year just over a week after he and Colombian singer Feid topped the Billboard Latin Airplay Chart with their raunchy yet charming single, Niña Bonita.
As DancehallMag previously reported, the Jamaican singer last achieved that feat in 2017 via his collaboration with Enrique Iglesias on Súbeme La Radio. He also topped the chart in 2014 with his Farruko collaboration, Passion Whine.
Niña Bonita, one in a series of standout Latin crossovers for Paul so far this year, has notched over 140 million streams on Spotify and over 40 million views on YouTube. He glowingly reflected on the groundbreaking track, describing it as “big vibes.”
“Big up to Feid. That’s big big vibes, man… It’s been a year where I’ve really gravitated more and more towards that [music]. Last year, me and Junior Gong released a song called No Fear and it featured Nicky Jam… and so, as I said, I’ve just been doing that to connect with my Latin fans.”
While teasing an upcoming project with another Colombian star singer, Manuel Turizo, Paul gave a special shout-out to Farina and Danny Ocean – artists he’s also worked with this year on that front.
“Big up to Danny Ocean, big up to Farina, and I can hint that I’ll be doing a song with Manuel soon,” he shared.
Earlier this year, Paul, Rvssian and Danny Ocean collaborated on No Me Controles, released on March 10, while he and Farina combined their talents on the bouncy party anthem, El Vibe, released on July 14.
Paul also worked with Latin superstar Karol G on Karmika – a single from her album Mañana Será Bonito, which topped the Billboard 200 albums chart dated March 11.
Those efforts, coupled with yesterday’s announcement regarding Paul’s historic nomination, have left the 50-year-old singer in an appreciative and excited mood.
“Yes man, I’m feeling great about that vibe. I appreciate and love everyone involved in the process to get me here, where I am today – to be nominated for a Billboard Latin Music Award. It’s a great honor, and I intend to live up to it,” Paul declared.
His contributions to Latin music, including tracks like Bailando with Enrique Iglesias in 2014 and Contra La Pared with J Balvin in 2022, also highlight Paul’s enduring dedication to his Latin fans.
Several factors are considered in an artist’s nomination for Billboard Latin Music Award’s Crossover Artist of the Year, including chart success, cross-genre appeal, global impact, collaborations, innovative sound and fan engagement.
Skrillex won the award in 2022.