My favorite non-U.S. hip hop artist is Sean Paul. What is unique about his style is that he incorporates many different music styles into his songs. He is known for his reggae, hip-hop, rap, and R&B. Through each music style, a different part of the world is portrayed. A lot of his beats are made by Jamaican drums, which adds a tropical touch to his music. He is also a mixture of ethnicities that include Jamaican, Portuguese, Chinese, and African. All of these cultural lineages provide diverse music and lyrics in his work. These different beats and cultural musics are what drove me to liking him when I was a freshman in high school.
His lyrics can be seen as a paradox to the movement of hip hip. Most of his songs are about "ladies" and the party lifestyle, but he also challenges that "capitalistic" aspect of the movement by writing and performing political hip hop pieces, such as "As Time Goes On." In an interview with MTV he describes how his record label wouldn't put that song on his album because they thought political lyrics wouldn't sell. So he made a deal with Target Corporation that allowed him to release a single CD with this song on it, without the help of his label. In the interview he stated, ""I know some very political people who rap, and they say very political things and they'll never get a deal. I think it's just because people don't see money in it, and they're afraid sometimes [of] the truth these kids are saying."
So with all this in mind, Sean Paul is my favorite non-U.S. hip hop artist because of the diversity he brings to the genre (culturally and musically) and how he isn't afraid to put out music that challenges the status-quo (an element of hip). In today's capitalistic society, it's hard to break from mainstream and commercialization, but I applaud Sean Paul in his efforts throughout the years. It takes great courage to do that and I think all musicians from any genre shouldn't be afraid to step outside the barriers.