Beyoncé and Sean Paul had radio airwaves on lock in 2003 when their sexy collaboration “Baby Boy” was released. As the second single from her debut solo album, “Dangerously In Love,” blazed the charts, rumors of the singer and dancehall-reggae rapper being romantically linked to one another also heated up.
Now, just shy of the hit record reaching its 20th anniversary, Sean Paul is again setting the record straight on what did and did not take place during his successful run with the singer. The “No Lie” rapper has long stated that his relationship with the singer was only tethered to working on their one collaboration and a few live performances; still, rumors of an entanglement have persisted. To this day he is quashing those tall tales.
“I wish I did” Sean Paul told The Daily Beast. At the time Beyoncé and New York rapper Jay-Z were keeping their relationship under wraps, though fan speculation proved there was little the future Mr. and Mrs. Carter could keep to themselves.
But none of that was of concern for Sean Paul, instead he was focused on the task at hand. After learning that Beyoncé was a fan of his, he says her team reached out extending the opportunity to collab.
“I thought it was going to be R&B, but it ended up being dancehall, so that made me go off. That was a bangin’ track, mon,” he said. But it did not take long for the duo’s sexy lyrics to pique the curiosity of fans hoping that art was indeed imitating life. The circulating rumors instead lead to a rift between the two artists that ultimately hindered future opportunities for them to hit the stage together.
As Sean Paul recalls things, he only performed the track a total of three times with the “Crazy In Love” songstress, including Reggae Sumfest, a performance in Los Angeles and a final performance in Scotland. He claims that unsuspecting audio issues were the first red flags to plague their live performances.
“I think that’s what started the rumors. Strange things started to happen at the performances, which was weird,” he said. While in Scotland he recalled the chart-topping record reaching his part and then suddenly skipping to the chorus, essentially leaving him off the record. What happened next was a confrontation between him and Beyoncé as she sought answers about the rumors that had her name abuzz.
“We had to have a speak about it. The rumors got really crazy,” he added. He continued by explaining, “She was pissed and was like ‘I need to speak to you.’ So, we go back and talk and she’s like ‘What’s all these rumors about?’ and I’m like ‘Yo, I’m not saying s—t, and she’s like ‘These rumors f—k with my career. I just want you to know that.’ I was like “They don’t f—k with mine. So, listen: I met Jay before you and we was friends, so me and him should talk. If he feels a way about that, then we should talk, because it’s not coming from me.’”
Despite the “99 Problems” emcee’s name being thrown around in rumors suggesting he was sabotaging Sean Paul to send a clear message of boundaries, the Jamaica native has never bought into any of it. “It couldn’t be because he wasn’t even there. But people started to say this s—t.”
Tensions surrounding the rumors and technical difficulties mounted when it was time for the duo to perform at the MTV VMAs. Sean Paul claims he was initially slated to take the stage with Beyoncé, but in the end was informed that her label no longer wanted him to join her onstage.
“It was embarrassing and weird,” he said when reflecting on how he watched the performance from the audience. As a result he passed on a scheduled performance planned for Washington, D.C. the next day. ”They were like ‘There are 3,000 influential people waiting out there for you to do it.’ And I was like, ‘There were 50 million people watching the VMAs. I’m not doing it.’ And I left. That was the last time we did the show, and by that time I was saying publicly that there was nothing going on. It fell on me. Nobody was asking them about it. But you know what? It was a big, fat, sexy song.”
By the end of its run, “Baby Boy” spent a total of nine weeks at the top of the Billboard’s US “Hot 100” chart. The “Black is King” creative did not have a long run at the top of the charts again until 2007 with the release of “Irreplaceable.”