Since 2013, the musical entourage IXXI has been dropping radical mixtapes and setting the tone of new wave hip-hop that is taking over the Toronto music scene. The artistic collective–also known by VLI./IXXI or Viva La IXXI–was formed by rapper/producer Sean Leon only two years ago, and features the works of Leon himself and up-and-comer singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar.
Both Leon and Caesar have been working extensively with fellow Canadian producers Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett. Sound familiar? That’s probably due to the fact that Evans and Burnett have been churning out hits for the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, and countless other hip-hop heavyweights since 2010. Their production on the track “Pound Cake” (Drake ft. Jay Z) is a prime example of their trademark layering of beats and lingering rhythms that now pulse throughout IXXI’s innovative sound.
Leon’s debut mixtape Ninelevenne, The Tragedy gave listeners a taste of his complex musical ear. Leon weaves an intricate web of stories throughout the album by layering clever lyrics over soft melodies and heavy, heavy beats. The mixtape also gave hip-hop lovers a preview of the romantic vocals of Caesar, who was featured on tracks “Pacific Coast Highway” and “Track Ten”.
Sean Leon delves further into the creative realm of experimentation on his most recent mixtape, Narcissus, the Drowning of Ego. Here, Leon’s signature minimalistic beats are juxtaposed to intensely substantial lyrics that are just begging to be played on repeat. His dark self-contemplations echo throughout the album- most notably on the key track “Pretty Girls Put Boys in Cemeteries”.
The first video released off the mixtape, the boldly bare “Firestorm”, is a work of art in and of itself, as the experimental sounds and visuals put out by IXXI are nothing short of avant-garde. Leon has made it clear that he is ready to take on the role of a renegade in the revival of the Toronto hip-hop scene.
Caesar has also recently released his own debut mixtape, Birds of Paradise, which easily earned and surpassed the hype that surrounds this promising artist. The three-track masterpiece includes a bone-chillingly brilliant cover of James Blake’s The “Wilhelm Scream”, along with two of Caesar’s original tracks. Simply put, this is an artist you’ll want to keep on your radar.
Clear your schedule for Saturday night. Both Sean Leon and Daniel Caesar will be performing at The Garrison on May 10th, 10:30 pm, and are expected to deliver a spine-shaking set.
Check out IXXI!
Check out Sean Leon!
Check out Daniel Caesar!
Author: Kaity D’Agostino