Bad Perm: I want to to discuss Ninelevenne [IXXI] not the mixtape but the conglomerate and Maui Slim. How did that all come about, that whole concept?
Sean Leon: Ninelevenne was…
BP: Well, we know what 9/11 was.
SL: No! I mean like the collective. Its inception was a result of feeling neglected and ashamed. I wanted to put together a think-tank or a collective that could get whatever it is I needed done. I feel like all my ideas are great and all my ideas deserve to get out. So for that to happen, I needed to have a group of individuals that helped me carry these things out because as much as I am involved in every single facet of my music – production, videos and everything – I can’t be my own cinematographer. I can’t be my own photographer. I can’t be my own manager. I can’t be certain things. You gotta spread the workload.
So that’s what that was. We were just a bunch of individuals that believed in me and believed in the vision. Something more than what was presented to us at birth. They wanted to transcend that and become legends. I’m only in the company of kings. Everybody that I work with is a king in his own right. It isn’t Sean Leon and the IXXI, I am the IXXI. They are IXXI. There’s no power trips. It’s more like that Gangster Squad that was put together. It had to have one person as the token, there needs to be one person that stands out.
BP: Just like Rocky of the A$AP Mob and Rocky wasn’t even there during its inception.
SL: Similar. These are just guys that I reached out to that I’ve been working with forever. I was like ‘yo, I got an idea. I know what we should do.’ That’s how that became.
BP: And you weren’t scared of using such a controversial title, Ninelevenne and everything that came with that?
SL: I made sure to be as respectful as possible. I made sure to not even spell it as “Nine Eleven.” When you hear 9/11, you get put somewhere and I wanted to channel that power. I wasn’t exploiting it or using it in a negative way. I like the idea of saying “Ninelevenne,” and people stop for a second and then I can continue saying what I need to say.
BP: So why Ninelevenne and not Nine-One-One?
SL: The sonic of that. Nine-One-One also just reminds me of the police and I’m not too fond of the police. 911 is my dream car. I equate the Porsche 911 with success. I equate that with, once I have that, I’m doing well. So that’s why it’s Porsche 911 and not Porsche 9-1-1, so that’s why I did that.
I was certain that eventually I was going to get asked that question and I wanted to make it clear. Don’t underestimate the amount of thought I put into things. There’s a reason Ninelevenne was spelt that way. You don’t think of it like that, but when it’s said it’s like ‘woah,’ and I like that.
BP: And Maui Slim?
SL: The birth of that was actually from one of the kings in my collective. When I had been making a lot of money, when I wasn’t broke, I couldn’t find a pair of shades that fit me right. I had a pair of Ray Ban vintage frames but I lost them at a show once. I couldn’t find a pair of frames that fit my face so I was out in the country and I bought a pair of Maui Jim’s. Spent a lot of money on them. I wore them one day and he [IXXI member] saw me in them and he called me “Maui Slim.”I thought that was the coldest, waviest nickname of all time.
Also, Jay Z had a nickname, Iceberg Slim and Jay Z is the reason I started rapping, so I was like, this was meant to be. So I ran with it. At first it was like a joke and then people started calling me Maui and I really like being called Maui.
BP: Just so we’re clear, who is in the IXXI collective?
SL: Andrew Lim, Slash, Nico Grey, Jovéski – that’s my guy, my producer, I’ve been working with him forever – Jason Amos, Mishko, Daniel Caesar and Jordan Evans. Jordan Evans is like an honorary member.
BP: Any females?
SL: Females, no, not because I’m sexist. I get this question all the time. I have four sisters. I’m in the middle of them, I got two younger ones, two older ones. I love women, women are creatures that are superior to men, I say that all the time. But the reason I don’t have any women in my collective is because every movie I’ve ever seen, ends with the main character getting caught up by a woman and that leads to his downfall. American Gangster, Casino, Blow.
BP: How did Frank Lucas get caught up by a woman?
SL: She bought him the fur!
BP: He chose to wear it! She didn’t hold a gun to his head and say wear this to that boxing match!
SL: How could he say no to that beautiful face? She got him a gift!
BP: So if she wasn’t beautiful, then he could say no?
SL: No, I just…it’s the wifey. Your wifey gets you an expensive gift, you’re gonna wear it, she wants you to wear it.
I’m just conscious of that. I just feel like any girl…I’m anti-love right now. I’m a hopeless romantic myself and it saddens me sometimes but there’s just no time for it. I had a relationship and it took a lot of my time. She’s a great girl and I still think she’s the best girl in the world but I just don’t have time for that and this. I’m here [in the studio] 20 hours a day. I don’t have time to be with anybody. I would just end up neglecting that person and that’s irresponsible. When you decide you wanna be in a relationship with somebody, you’re sacrificing certain things. You’re sacrificing your time and that’s not always a bad thing if you care about them and all power to you but don’t be neglecting that person. You’re mistreating them. You shouldn’t do that if you love them.