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Sean Paul Reveals He Doesn’t Actually Say ‘Sean da Paul’ in His Songs

People on social media are baffled to learn that rapper Sean Paul has never been saying his name in the opening of his songs, a misconception that spans 20 years.

Man wearing a baseball cap and long sleeve shirt stands on stage holding a microphone
Sean Paul on stage during the One Music Festival, 2018. Credit: Shutterstock/Jamie Lamor Thompson

People on social media are baffled to learn that rapper Sean Paul has never said his name in the opening of his songs, a misconception that spans 20 years.

In a resurfaced clip from ‘The Story of Get Busy’ by Vice, the noughties music icon reveals the common phrase in his songs ‘Sean Da Paul’ is actually a tribute to West Indies cricketer Shivnarine Chanderpaul due to how similar their names sound.

Who is Shivnarine Chanderpaul?

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is a Guyanese former cricketer who captained the West Indies team, which includes Paul’s home country of Jamaica. He retired in 2016 after a final match against England and now coaches the USA Women’s Cricket team.

Paul told Vice, “There was a famous cricketer in Trinidad, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Everybody was like ‘Chanderpaul’ and yo, that name stuck.”

 He also shared how the sportsman reacted to the tribute.

“And then I just started to say it at shows and met the dude Chanderpaul years later, and he’s like ‘Yo!’ But yeah, big up to Shivnarine Chanderpaul.”

Jamaican man in sunglasses, leather jacket and chains holds a microphone on stage
Sean Paul on stage in Poland, 2008. Credit: Shutterstock/Marcin Kadziolka

Sean Paul is responsible for some of the most iconic dance songs of the 2000s, such as ‘Temperature,’ ‘Get Busy’ and Beyonce’s ‘Baby Boy.’ He has also featured on more recent hits such as Cheap Thrills by Sia and No Lie by Dua Lipa.

He is considered to be one of the most popular Dancehall and Reggae artists of all time, selling millions of records worldwide. The 50-year-old is also credited with bringing Dancehall to a global audience with his 2002 album Dutty Rock.

Now fans of his music are sharing their surprise at the decades-old misheard lyric and its bizarre inspiration, with some refusing to accept the real explanation and others using the common social media phrase ‘I was today years old when I learned…’

One person who was especially stunned by this news was X user and BBC radio commentator Santokie89, who, back in 2017, made what at the time was an embarrassing confession. ‘Fact: I used to think that Sean Paul was shouting out Chanderpaul at the beginning of every song in a weird tribute to the Cricket player.’ After Paul posted the clip that confirmed the odd theory, the user reacted with a simple ‘omg.’

How does this happen?

This revelation is just the latest example of misheard lyrics, a popular social media phenomenon. Some of the most famous examples of misheard lyrics include ‘All the Lonely Starbucks Lovers’ from Blank Space by Taylor Swift and ‘Don’t Go Jason Waterfalls’ from Waterfalls by TLC. The real lyrics are ‘Got a long list of ex-lovers’ and ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls.’

The idea of a misheard lyric or phrase actually has its own name, a mondegreen. The word was originated by Scottish author Sylvia Wright in 1954 when she wrote about misinterpreting a Scottish ballad, and the phenomenon also has a scientific explanation.

According to Grammarist, mondegreens happen ‘due to a combination of speed, rhythm, enunciation and pitch,’ creating a series of inconsistencies in sound. These sounds are called cognitive dissonance, and when it happens, the brain assumes what the words were and fills in the gaps with words that make sense so that you can understand what has been said.  

It would be logical to assume that Sean Paul was shouting out his own name in his songs, as it is a trait that many famous musicians choose to adopt, such as Jason Derulo and DJ Khaled. DJ Khaled is so well known for it that it has spawned many memes on social media.

 Sean Paul also explained the origins of the famous intro of his song ‘Get Busy’ in the video with Vice. “I remember driving from the hill to the studio when my girlfriend at the time called me. She said ‘Where are you going?’ and she was with her friend. I’m like, ‘I’m going to the studio,’ and her friend was like, ‘Oh, put my name in the song.’ And I said, ‘Okay, Cana, I got you, girl.’”

He also shared how important his Jamaican heritage is to his music and why he has chosen to live there to this day. “A lot of people ask me why I still live here. These people made me. They built me into what I am today.”

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