Fredericton rappers Sean One and Monark have teamed up with Halifax-based DJ Uncle Fester to form The Presidents of Canada. Their new single Out For Presidents teases the forthcoming album due to arrive in November.
Collaboration is one of hip hop’s greatest strengths. No doubt about it. When two or more musicians are placed together in an environment where they can directly feed off each other, effectively increasing the sum of the whole with each new verse, that is a combination hard to top and one rarely found outside of say, improvisational jazz or something. And I don’t even think jazz can touch what hip hop delivers in this regard. Sure, you could easily make a similar case when describing the way a set of dueling guitar solos can sometimes conjure an ungodly amount of energy when locked in above a groove so thick that as a listener, it can be hard to turn away from. But the strength I’m talking about trumps all that. The raw power at the core of hip hop music comes not from a set of strings and an amp, or a cane reed and a piece of brass. Not even from a turntable and a stack of choice vinyl. I’m talking about a strength so deceptively powerful that few ever learn to harness it’s full force. I’m talking about the human voice. And in this particular case, I’m talking about the voices of Fredericton-based rappers extraordinaire Sean One and Monark, two grandmasters of Atlantic Canadian hip hop.
Last week saw the release of Out For Presidents, the latest single from the forthcoming album featuring Sean One, Monark and Halifax-based producer DJ Uncle Fester who are collectively known as The Presidents of Canada. Their self-titled debut album is set for release in November via Black Buffalo Records and if this track is any indication of the full album soon to arrive on your streaming service of choice (and as a limited edition vinyl pressing), I can assure you 2021 will come to a close on a high note.
Experience, discographies, and onstage presence aside, the contrast in tone and delivery that exists between Sean One and Monark is the root of their collective strength on this track. Monark takes the first pair of verses on Out For Presidents establishing an aggressive approach to rightfully aggressive subject matter: inequity, social justice and marginalized voices. His words are sharp and biting. By comparison, Sean One’s delivery is smoother on the edges, dulling his counterpart’s piercing points ever so slightly without taking away from the track’s overall momentum. And his decision to avoid predictable rhyme schemes, choosing instead to finish larger phrases just shy of predictability serve the song expertly, highlighting his experience as a rapper and a producer.
Uncle Fester’s production provides the melody and drive that carries this entire track forward. Among the most revered hip hop producers in Canada, Fester’s production has graced an impressive list of award-winning albums. His 2020 album Bleeding Gums Murphy, created with Halifax-based rapper Aquakultre, was long-listed for the 2020 Polaris Music Prize.
I could go on, but I’m going to wait until the album comes out when I can sit down virtually with all three of these players and do a deep dive into who they are as The Presidents of Canada. Until then, enjoy the single, play it loudly and go pre-order yourself a copy of the record.
As a local aside, it should be mentioned that the vocals on this track were recorded by Fredericton producer FRNK at Renegade Sound Studio. #themoreyouknow