Fredericton-based hip hop producer Sean One makes his Black Buffalo Records debut with Development, his first new rap album in over a decade.
From the outside looking in, Sean One didn’t need to make a new rap album. He has a good day job, a home studio and a vinyl collection that would make any music lover jealous. His last full-length rap album, Full Of It, peaked at number one on the national campus charts, knocking Mona Only out of the top seat in the summer of 2007 and he has spent the past decade happily producing beats for himself (check out his two full-length instrumental releases Jack Nicholson and Until Then) and others on the east coast hip hop scene. As a go-to producer, collaborator, New Brunswick hip hop O.G. and highly respected student of the genre, Sean has practically reached guru level. But from the inside looking out, that is to say, after listening to his latest album, Development, on repeat for days on end, it seems the creation of this album was simply unavoidable and something built out of pure necessity.
The album opens with the track Let It Go, a song that sets the tone for the variations on acceptance, overcoming troubles and personal growth that carry through the album’s 15 tracks. By the end of the second track it’s hard to miss the connection between the album’s title and the subject matter Sean is exploring. The lyrical tone on Development comes across as both a form of therapy and a personal assurance that whatever challenges he has had to overcome over the past 12 years have only made him stronger.
Sean’s experience as a producer shines bright on Development. His beats are colourful, varied and engaging to listen to. With major nods to boom-bap and jazz, the melodies throughout the album are memorable, which is important for any album of this length. The album’s tonal variety is magnified through the addition of a number of guest vocalists including Aquakultre, Ghettosocks, Monark and his former First Words collaborator Above, who each help bring a distinct flavour to the album’s overarching theme of self empowerment.
When it comes to art of any form, there is no substitute for experience. And as therapeutic and personal an album as Development may be, it’s also just a solid hip hop album, a stand alone classic and a testament to Sean’s unparalleled ability to create hip hop with meaning. He may not have had to make a new album to remain a highly respected musician, but we should all be thankful that he did.
Development should arrive on Sean’s Bandcamp later this week. Watch for it.