Sean Leon and the IXXI collective will be the next big thing to propel itself from The Screwface Capital into international recognition. In this I have faith.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that their front man, Sean Leon possess all the qualities of the next hip hop luminary. His confidence borders on cockiness and his self-awareness can sometimes be seen as narcissistic but when he gets on stage and begins to move like a young Jimi Hendrix, none of that matters. It all boils down to the music and IXXI makes some damn good music.
It was so obvious that I had to interview Sean and pick his brain for our readers so on an incredibly cold night, your girl Alice ventured down the rabbit hole to a small studio tucked away in Toronto’s East End. There, Sean had been spending almost all his time working on new music. Sleeping on the couch inside the studio in fear of waking up inspired and not being able to create, Sean prepared his meals from a toaster oven and was willing to forgo seeing daylight just so he could finish up his project.
The way he suffered for his art was not only romantic, but it also made me feel guilty for being so neglectful of my photography. There in that dark studio, I got the sense of being back in the womb because after all, this is where the hip hop of tomorrow was being birthed.
I’d like to ask you to join us in the following conversation. It is completely unadulterated and has not been condensed from its original context.
Bad Perm: Let’s get right into it, one of your tweets that stands out in my mind said “I hate blogs.” And here you are speaking with a blog.
Sean Leon: Does that make me a hypocrite?
BP: No…I’m just inquiring as to what made you want to speak with Bad Perm?
SL: I fuck with anybody that fucks with me. Like I said, I’m a respectful person. My whole thing, like I said in another interview is that I wasn’t even a part of the conversation, so if I can’t be your friend, I’m going to be your enemy. That’s the way I exist. So if you’re not fucking with me, fuck you. I mean that in the most genuine way possible and you have to adopt that mentality because…like being a nice guy wasn’t working. Waiting patiently wasn’t working. Now that I know that my music is good, I’m just going to go all in.
Again, I’m respectful and anybody that takes time to reach out to me, I’m gonna respond as quickly as possible, as I did with you. I don’t hate blogs, I just hate the content.
BP: Because it’s not about you?
SL: Not even that! That sounds so arrogant and narcissistic. The content is just…so cheap. It’s like gossip. And that’s so necessary, but then say that you’re a gossip blog. I have a friend that runs a blog, it’s like TMZ but with class.
BP: But not all blogs are gossip…
SL: I know but I’m saying the ones that aren’t are slowly becoming that. They’re saying that they’re for the culture and this is the publication and that they’re after new talent or that they’re delivering the best material to you, whether it may be photography, film, music, trying to give you the best shit possible – they’re not doing that. They’re not doing their job. And because they’re up there, and everyone knows that a co-sign from that blog means something, everybody’s really quiet about it. They don’t talk about it, they let it go.
My thing is, I don’t wanna see that. I wanna see amazing shit. I used to wake up and go on the blogs everyday. Now I don’t go on the blogs, ever. Ever. Ever. I’ll go on Twitter and if I see an interesting title, then it’s a must click. But I’m not like typing in blogs on my Google Chrome and going there to find what’s cool and what’s fresh because there’s nothing on there. There’s nothing exciting and breathtaking anymore. It’s cheap and I don’t know where the heart is anymore.
BP: Any specific blogs that you have a vendetta against?
SL: No. Nobody’s ever crossed me. So I would just be burning a bridge.
BP: So which are these blogs that you hate?
SL: It’s hard to speak candidly about these things. A post from them could change my life.
BP: Then you’ll love them.
SL: No, I won’t even. I can’t wait for my interview with them, I just feel like my gripe with them will be to them in that interview. I feel like it would be unprofessional for me to have an interview with a publication shitting on another publication.
BP: That’s very respectful of you.
SL: I’m a very respectful person. But I will say that I can’t wait to be called for these interviews. I can’t wait to be like ‘you guys lost it.’ I can’t wait. And the thing is they’ll love that. That controversy of interviewing somebody and having that person shit on you is great for virility. So I’d be doing them a favor by also getting my opinion on them out. It’s a win-win for everybody.
BP: I know Tika Simone was one of the first people to reach out, if I’m not mistaken.
SL: The only person.
BP: So how did you foster that relationship with the Known Unknown?
SL: I met Tika when I first started making music and she was doing this thing called Open Mic Spotlight, and I tell this story all the time. At the time, it was my first show outside of Ajax. I was super excited, it was my first show downtown. I was there first but I didn’t end up going until way at the end. I was timid, I was young and I got on and I did four bars, they cut my mic off and they sent me back to the 905. She didn’t remember that story until I told her. I wasn’t that good then. My friend actually ended up quitting. For me that was like a motivator.
She hit me up a second time because a mutual friend played her my songs and she heard it and really liked it. She gave me a shot to perform and I killed it. From there it was just love. The reason I like that relationship the most is because it didn’t come from nepotism and it didn’t come from playing the favourite. There was no reason for her to fuck with me other than she liked my music. She got to know me as a person and she liked my energy and since then we’ve been able to do incredible things. She’s been able to give me a lot of opportunities to get my vision out. She’s the reason I was able to do the Manifesto show. The reason why I did Hard Rock, Harbourfront and Wrongbar.
She’s great, she really cares about this city.