"Baby Boy," the 2003 Beyoncé song that features Sean Paul was a massive hit — his first No. 1 single — and, even today, he continues to be asked about his rumored relationship with the star.
When asked by The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern in a story published Monday whether he had hooked up with the Grammy winner, Paul answered, "Nah! I wish I did! She's beautiful." And the Jamaican artist described their song as "a bangin' track, mon."
He said he'd been excited when she asked him to work with her, but soon there was gossip the two were together. This was despite the fact she was dating rapper Jay-Z.
"We had to have a speak about it," said Paul, explaining that their talk came after the first two times they performed the song.
"We had just three performances, and one was at Reggae Sumfest. At the time, we were both on the Rock the Mic Tour. This was 2003," Paul said. "She wasn't on it every day, but she would come on certain dates and do the song ["Crazy in Love] with [Jay-Z]. One day, we left to do the video and then played Sumfest. That was the first time. The second time was in L.A., and a strange thing happened — and I think that's what started the rumors. Strange things started to happen at the performances, which was weird."
Sean Paul and Beyoncé perform Nov. 6, 2003 at the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
Paul, who was born Sean Henriques, recalled that the Los Angeles concert didn't quite go as planned.
"I did my show and then she was performing, and they told me to stick around because we'll do 'Baby Boy.' We do it and I run out there and the crowd goes wild, but after a while it seems like I lost their energy," Paul said. "And it's weird because I was going wild out there. When the song finished, I came backstage and my own band was all pissed off, like 'Man, that's f***ed up. You heard yourself? We couldn't hear you in the crowd. Your mic was off.' I was like, 'How the f*** did that happen?'"
Then came that third performance in Scotland.
"That's when we had the talk, because the rumors got really crazy. I landed in Scotland and it was this MTV event, and there were paparazzi everywhere," Paul said. "We ended up doing the rehearsal and everything was good, and the performance was going to be where I come up from under the stage, and then we both walk to a big center thing in the middle of the stadium which was surrounded by fire. That all happens, and then it reaches my part — 'You're a top, top, girl' — and the track keeps going, 'Baby boy, you stay…. Baby boy, you stay…' just repeating. I was like, 'What's going on here!?' 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***,' and she's like 'These rumors f*** with my career. I just want you to know that.' I was like 'They don't fuck 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.'"
Paul was asked if he thought Jay-Z had anything to do with the audio issues.
"It couldn’t be because he wasn't even there. But people started to say this s***," he said. "And there was one more performance we were supposed to do at the VMAs, and she said to me 'We're gonna have rehearsal, so look out.' The day before the VMAs happens, there's this press day where you speak to every radio station, and I'm hearing somebody rehearsing "Baby Boy." So, I'm like 'What's going on?' We went to the label and they were like 'Yo…they're not gonna do the song with you.' So, I'm sitting there in the crowd with my present wife and Paris Hilton is sitting in front of me. Beyoncé is coming down the stairs singing the song and Paris Hilton turns to me and goes 'Why aren't you up there?' It was embarrassing and weird."
Paul still planned to do "Baby Boy" again.
"So, the next day, I was supposed to perform in Washington, D.C., and do the song with her for her father," said. "I went there, did my show, and then waited around for a while. And I got pissed off. 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."
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Beyoncé for comment.
In a March 2020 appearance on Access Daily, Paul said that his song with the "Single Ladies" artist was "an amazing thing" for him.
He had only good things to say about her, too, on the 15th anniversary of the track in 2018.
"When you're around [Beyoncé] and she's working, that's what it was," he told ET. "It was just amazing focus and you saw that she had this plan from forever, but she wasn't going to let little problems kind of get in the way. She was going with the flow also but very professional. That's what I got from her. Amazing song, I was glad to be on it. I was glad that she wanted to do dancehall music."