You'll have to excuse Sean Kingston if he seems a little distracted when a newspaper reporter calls him. He's not your typical teenager.
Most 18-year-olds are juggling high school homework and SAT studying. Kingston's dealing with the newfound fame and responsibility that come with a gold-certified debut album, three top-10 hits, opening on Gwen Stefani's tour, an anticipated sophomore album that will be released on his new Time Is Money label, designing his Royal King clothing line and a signature sneaker for the Pony brand.
"I've been all around the world," the baby-faced singer/rapper said via phone last week from Los Angeles.
The frequent-flier status only grows when Kingston travels to Alaska for two performances Friday night at the Alaska State Fair's Borealis Theatre.
So you can see why he might be a bit busy.
But Kingston wouldn't have it any other way. After all, his biggest idol is street hustler-turned-rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z. When Kingston met the legendary Roc-A-Fella Records founder, he let him know he looked up to him and that he wanted to get to his level.
"I was very excited. I mean, he's Jay," Kingston said. "He's a great dude. He's very humble. He told me, 'You've got great talent. Keep it up.'?"
If the past year is any indication, Kingston should have little trouble getting there. Starting the ascendant rise for the Miami-born, Jamaica-raised performer was the infectious debut single "Beautiful Girls," which became the hot hit of summer 2007 due to Kingston's reggae crooning and a familiar sample from Ben E. King's 1961 chart-topper "Stand By Me."
"I used to listen to a lot of oldies when I was younger. My mom always played that stuff around house," Kingston said. "I wanted to be different and have my own sound, so I added a little doo-wop in there. I knew it was a hit as soon as I finished it."
The song eventually bumped Rihanna's smash single "Umbrella" from the top of the Billboard charts.
"When I heard my song on the radio, I knew (I had made it)," said Kingston, who bought a big house and a Bentley automobile once the money started rolling in.
Life wasn't always so peachy for Kingston, who at 15 saw his world turned upside down when his mother and older sister were arrested and jailed on federal tax-evasion charges. Left homeless, Kingston, the nephew of reggae legend Buju Banton and grandson of Bob Marley producer Jack Ruby, turned to his love for music.
He borrowed a buddy's computer and bugged Los Angeles-based producer J.R. Rotem -- who helped craft hits for Rihanna, Fergie and Rick Ross -- multiple times daily to listen to his stuff. The squeaky wheel got the oil when Rotem caved and told the teen to call him if he made it to California. In a coincidence, Kingston was already planning a move to live with his brother in Los Angeles.
The duo hit it off in the studio, and the result was Kingston's self-titled debut album, which was cluttered with hits such as "Girls," "Me Love," "Take You There" and "There's Nothin'." But equally important to Kingston, he gained a friend and confidant in Rotem.
"He's like my older brother," he said.
Kingston isn't resting on his laurels, as some teenagers might be apt to do. He's been hard at work touring and crafting his new album. While Rotem will still have a hand in the process, "Point Blank," set for an early 2009 release, will feature production from hitmakers Polow Da Don, Timbaland, Danja, Bryan-Michael Cox and Lil Jon.
"The last album I was still trying to find myself," Kingston said. "Now I know who I am as an artist and what music I want to put out there for my fans."
While Kingston isn't afraid to lean on star producers to find the hottest beats, he'll keep the guest appearances from rappers on "Point Blank" to a minimum so he is "known for hits he did on his own."
"I don't want people to think Ludacris or Lil' Wayne are what make my records hot," he said. "I want to be recognized for what I can do."
And if his confidence in the album is any indication, Kingston will get his fair share of recognition and even more fame and fortune.
"It's going to be a classic."
When: 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Borealis Theatre, Alaska State Fair, Palmer
How much: $29.50-$39.50 per show, alaskastatefair.org
Birth name: Kisean Anderson
Born: Feb. 3, 1990, in Miami Raised in: Kingston, Jamaica, and Miami
Most listened to on his iPod: Jay-Z's "Reasonable Doubt"
Shoes on his feet: Gucci sneakers
Fitted on his head: Miami Hurricanes
By Barry Piser
Daily News correspondent