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POSITIVELY KINGSTON

The 17-year-old hip-hop star overcame long odds with persistence and an upbeat attitude.

Sean Kingston proves that how you start out in life doesn't always determine where you end up. A few years ago, the 17-year-old was homeless with a dream of making it big in the music industry. Today, the Miami-born, Jamaican-bred Kingston has the No. 1 song on the Billboard chart, Beautiful Girls.

(The song jumps from No. 23 to the top as Billboard begins including streamed and on-demand music from Yahoo and AOL in how it figures chart placement.)

But Kingston is not content with appearing in front of the microphone. He says he also writes all of his music.

What inspired Beautiful Girls?

I was dating this girl for two years, and she ended up cheating on me with one of my best friends, like a real close best friend. . . . Basically in the story of the track, I am talking to her.

With the success of the song, should you thank her?

I really don't want to thank her personally because she really dogged me, but if it happens to be that (she reads this), shout out to Ashley. She knows what it is.

How did you get your record deal?

I got my deal off MySpace.com. I wrote to J.R. Rotem. He is a big producer. He's done a lot of stuff for Rihanna, 50 Cent, Britney Spears and etc. . . . I saw his MySpace (page). I thought, "Yo, this guy is really talented. I want to work with him." What I did was hit him up on his e-mail, like, "Yo, please take time out to listen to my music. I'm in a struggle right now. I'm in a bad situation. Music is my life. Just give me a chance." . . . He didn't reply back. I kept on sending the messages. I kept on hitting him back like eight times a day. He eventually replied back, like, "Yo, I want to hear more music."

Talk about the hardships you have had to overcome.

My mom, she got taken away from me when I was 14 years old. She is incarcerated. My sister was incarcerated. . . . I was forced to live with my aunt. My aunt, she doesn't like rap music. She thinks rap music is the devil's music. Basically she said, "Yo, if you are going to do music, you can't do it in my house." . . . I breathe, I sleep, I eat music. Music is what I wanted to do. When she told me that, I was left in a weird situation. I wanted to do music, and she heard me coming in with demo CDs, and she kicked me out. . . . I was sleeping in a Fort Lauderdale bus station for two days.

Why are you against using profanity in your music?

With everything that is going on with hip-hop and with what everybody is doing, I don't want to be in that lane. I think my lane is very different. I am 17 years old, that's one. I don't really curse in general, when I am talking to people. I come from a good home. It might slip out sometimes, but it's not really that big of a deal. To put it in my music, that's not the message I am trying to send out. That's not the type of artist I am trying to be. That is not the type of lane I am trying to take. I'm looking for a crossover, wide audience. I am here to make great music and pursue a great career and connect with the fans - this big artist that is making great music and sending positive messages.

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