Sean Leon’s debut project: Ninelevenne, The Tragedy [Review]
Toronto, ON – Blessing. An antonym of ‘Tragedy,’ but arguably the most effective noun to identify this up-and-comer within Toronto’s hip-hop scene. With the release of his debut project, Ninelevenne, The Tragedy, Sean Leon has managed to surpass expectations while emancipating us of our overwhelming anticipation. In this thirteen-track mixtape, Sean acquaints us with the pursuit of perfection and its inevitable demise, giving us 50 minutes of his novel new-school sound.
The anticipation for Sean’s first official release has been building across numerous social media sites for the past year. Various appearances and performances across the city prior to the release date, including the official Ninelevenne Release Party, only caused even more eagerness. Much of this yearning can be credited to Sean’s captivating personality and stage presence, but praise must also be given to the entire IXXI! crew. Arriving in style, usually all black everything, transforming a mediocre crowd into a possessed mosh-pit, and creating nothing but hype over Twitter, The IXXI definitely uphold their ‘Viva La IXXI’ slogan. Sean Leon and The IXXI is without a doubt, a desired brand, and something Toronto hip-hop unknowingly needed.
Read the rest of the review after the jump.
With the help of his crew, Sean dropped the official mixtape cover via Twitter and Instagram on July 21st. The cover is simplistic, allowing all attention to exist around the music. It depicts something that resembles dried white paint strokes on a wall, accompanied by nothing but the parental advisory logo. Almost a Yeezus approach. This was followed by Sean tweeting, “Today nobody cares, but tomorrow they will” the following evening.
Tomorrow came. Finally, on July 23rd at 9:11PM Sean dropped Ninelevenne, The Tragedy via seanleon.com and vivalaixxi.com. Surrounded by intriguing images and GIFs, keeping with the brand’s consistent black and white imagery, the mixtape was even pleasant for the eyes. For the ears however, it did so much more. Ninelevenne, The Tragedy provides bizarre, sultry, smooth productions, often allowing for instrumental breaks and unexpected beat-drops. Toronto’s own Jordan Evans, known for working with major artists such as Eminem, Drake, and Lil Wayne, produced one of the mixtape’s fan favourites “WKWYSF.” Another Toronto talent, Benjamin Foran, can be heard on track six, “Pacific Coast Highway” with a lengthy and beautiful guitar solo. Daniel Caesar, also of The IXXI!, accompanies Sean on two tracks from the mixtape, “Pacific Coast Highway” and “Track Ten.” Daniel’s melodic and soulful vocals on these tracks truly showcase his musical abilities and leave us wanting more from him.
Although it is amazing, the production of this mixtape need not stand alone. Sean’s ability to balance his sometimes whisper-like, soft vocals with his provocative lyrics, wise wordplay, and fascinating storytelling is what allows him to be apart of the future. In an industry where its usually one or the other, Sean’s audio truly matches his extravagant stage presence. At times it can feel as though Sean is attacking his listeners through his music, demanding attention and respect through the power his presence alone automatically receives. He is pushing the boundaries of not only Canadian hip-hop, but the hip-hop industry in its entirety. Sean Leon is unique in its purest of forms, but to compare him to some already household names, we would have to mention Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, and the storytelling endowment of Kendrick Lamar.
With the release of Ninelevenne, The Tragedy Sean Leon and the entire IXXI crew have added immensely to the steady creation of Toronto’s own hip-hop sound. It is safe to say, this may be one of the best mixtapes we’ve seen thus car from any unsigned Canadian hype. As we listen to The Tragedy on repeat, one cannot help but wait for its sequel, entitled Animal King, set to drop in the Fall. To satisfy the anticipation that comes with waiting until then, Sean will be headlining his first post-mixtape release show this Sunday, July 28th. Put on by The Known Unknown, Sean will be the feature attraction for their 4th year anniversary event!
Sean said that he just wants to be special by his birthday in January. HipHopCanada thinks it’s safe to say that you’ve already made a special indent on Toronto’s hip-hop story, and we cannot wait to watch you grow. Sean Leon, you have insured that you will not be forgotten.
Stream & download Ninelevenne here
Stream & download Ninelevenne here