Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 08:21 UK

British R&B star conquers America

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Jay Sean (left) with Lil Wayne
Jay Sean (left) teamed up with rap star Lil Wayne for the single

British R&B star Jay Sean has conquered the US chart - succeeding where many UK artists have failed by notching up six weeks in the Billboard top 10.

Sean's single Down, which features rapper Lil Wayne, has sold a million copies and been at number two for the past three weeks.

Sean, from Hounslow, west London, is now the most successful male UK urban artist in US chart history.

"If you have some good music, you can make it anywhere," he said.

The singer is currently enjoying greater success in the US than he has found at home.

The former medical student had two UK top 10 hits in 2004, but later split with his record label Virgin when, he says, they tried to make him sound like James Blunt.

He went on to form his own record label Jayded with his management company 2 Point 9, and the resulting music attracted the attention of US hip-hop label Cash Money, home of Lil Wayne.

The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas have been number one in the US for six months

The singer had already written and recorded the song Down when Cash Money paired him up with Lil Wayne, who had the best-selling US album of 2008.

Lil Wayne added a 30-second rap to the track and the collaboration was propelled toward the top of the charts.

"I'm very blessed that it got off to a flying start and it's been doing crazy things over the last couple of months," Sean told BBC News.

His quick success came as a surprise to many American fans, he said.

"All the journalists and radio people have been saying, dude, where did you come from?

"It's just different for them. I talk funny. They say, dude, we wouldn't expect you, a little Brit, to be signed to Cash Money. They love the fact that we're from two different worlds, and I love that as well."

As long as you work hard and strive to do you best and make good music, and of course with a bit of luck, it is possible
Jay Sean

Sean now hopes to topple the Black Eyed Peas from the number one spot, which they have occupied for the past six months.

"I know their sales are decreasing and their airplay is falling. It's probably going to be on its way down. Hopefully we can clinch that number one spot."

Sean has joined an exclusive club of UK urban artists who have enjoyed hits in the home of hip-hop and R&B.

Leona Lewis topped the US charts with her song Bleeding Love last year, while Soul II Soul, Mark Morrison, Craig David, MIA and Estelle have broken into the top 10 in the past.

"I want to do my best to represent the UK in America and let people really understand that it doesn't matter if we're from a little place called Hounslow.

"As long as you work hard and strive to do you best and make good music, and of course with a bit of luck, it is possible," he said.

His single is also shaping up to be a hit in the UK, where it is released on 26 October, after being added to the playlists of radio stations like BBC Radio 1, Capital and Galaxy.



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