It's a fair guess that most of the people who packed Philips Arena to see Usher last weekend won't be familiar with the name Sean Garrett. But as soon as the mega-hit "Yeah!" came blasting over the speakers, all of them were likely singing his words.
It's been a good year for the Atlanta-based songwriter. On the heels of "Yeah!" — which Garrett describes as a musical "circus" — the tunesmith lent his pen to another Lil Jon production, "Goodies," by Atlanta's budding R&B ingenue Ciara. The two songs have dominated the airwaves this year, both reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. They've also come to define the emerging sound called "crunk 'n' B," which mixes the spare, electro of Atlanta hip-hop with smooth, soulful melodies.
The process of creating the innovative musical blend comes easily for Garrett. "Whenever I hear a beat, I hear a melody," Garrett says. "It's like a two-part process. I first come up with a crazy melody and I'll just sing the melody and I won't have no words, then I go figure out some lyrics that are gonna go with that and be crazy as well."
Expect Garrett's name to show up on some of the year's most anticipated releases. The first two planned singles from Destiny's Child's forthcoming Destiny Fulfilled are by Garrett, and his fellow Atlantans in the guy group 112 have tapped Garrett to handle nearly half the writing duties on their next offering. Add upcoming projects for Ricky Martin, J-Lo, and possibly Bon Jovi, and it's clear that folks will likely be singing Garrett's lyrics for a long time to come.
He doesn't even mind if people never learn his name. "I just love music," Garrett says. "I'm not caught up in the hype of trying to be some superstar. That's really not me."