Saint John rapper Stephen Hero teamed up with Halifax-based producer Uncle Fester to create their debut single, Jeez.
Somebody get Hollywood on the phone!
I’ve said this before but I feel it deserves repeating. Stephen Hero’s DIY career path has all the makings of a would-be mini-series: humble beginnings, belief in one’s self, boundless determination, and a refinement of skills and ability that gather continued momentum with each new episode. It is a plotline that practically writes itself with each new chapter leaving audiences wondering what could possibly happen next.
In the latest chapter of Stephen Hero – Local Legend in the Making™, our protagonist makes a Skywalker-esque journey to the epicenter of the East Coast hip hop universe (aka Halifax) to train with the master, the guru, the maestro, the straight up fucking Yoda of Atlantic Canadian rap music, Shaun Ryan aka Uncle Fester. Ryan’s beats and production are synonymous with the biggest names in Atlantic Canadian hip hop including Ghettosocks, Aquakultre, Sean One, Monark, Tachichi, Ambeez, and countless others. With the release of their debut collaborative single, Jeez, Stephen Hero earns his place on this genre defining list of regional music makers.
Last week, Hero and Fester released their debut collaboration. And like a lot of good collabs these days, the Uncle Fester/Stephen Hero pairing can trace its origins back to a mutual respect and subsequent conversation on social media.
“I first started interacting with [Uncle Fester] on Instagram last year,” said Hero. “Obviously I’ve known about him for a long time and at some point he checked out what I was doing and dug it. We met in person at Paddlefest last spring, chopped it up a bit, and then he told me to get in touch next time I was in Halifax, so I did. The first time I went there we just kicked it, but when I was leaving he was like, ‘next time come ready to get in the booth.’”
Long before they met in person, the two had already established a mutual respect for each other’s work. Over the past few years Hero’s relentless stream of singles and EPs paired with a dominant social media presence have made contact with his music practically unavoidable. And for anyone interested in the wealth of rap music being made in Atlantic Canada, Fester’s position at the centre of it all is without question. Knowing this, it was only a matter of time before their professional paths crossed in the studio.
“I had heard his music online and really respected what I was hearing,” said Ryan. “He’s very authentically himself and it comes across very clearly in the music. I respect that. We met in New Brunswick when I was playing shows with Aquakultre and we became homies pretty fast. There’s a certain type of hip hop head that always seems to get along right away.
“Fast forward a couple months, he’s headed to Halifax, and we make plans to link and make a track. It came together very easily. Instant vibes. Pretty easy to assume we’ll do more down the line, with how well this one went,” he said.
Jeez features many of Ryan’s production hallmarks. A thick downtempo rhythm forms the foundation for a simple melody line leading in and out of choruses augmented by vocal samples and scratches. Ryan’s less-is-more approach to beat making and production provide the perfect balance between his own beats and a rapper’s lyrical cadence.
Jeez is available now on all major streaming platforms.