VS starts off the album right, giving some insight into what to be prepared for with Vintage’s production and Sean’s lyricism. Just off the first track you can hear the growth of Sean since ‘a love aPhiliated’. I realized I definitely had something to prepare for when I heard “resurrected would have never expected that rhetoric would be leverage in them seven by seven sentiments/ said it meant it said it again/ said it again/ men said its sediment when I said it to them/ set it in a sedative and settle the singe/ revel in reverence and revenge/ never pretend/ clever is a relative to a devilish grin/ yeah better is relative but am i better than them”. With lines like that, Sean just shut down 98% of mainstream rap. Wow!
Zenith ft. DJ Aslan
Scratching is a vastly overlooked of hip-hop in the last decade, so when a track starts off with it, you have my notice. Add in that spacy atmosphere and a crunchy synth and I am sold. Dang, Sean’s not pulling any punches starting off with two big tracks right out of the gate. I especially dig this line. “vintage said/ it aint gon be complex, gotta flex your own/ cant lean on the beat like a sectional”. And just for good measure, here’s a live version.
Sunshine ft. DJ Sean P
This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. At only 1:25, I would assume this would be some form of intro into the next track, but not so. Instead Sean rips one minute and twelve seconds. Not only does he eat the beat alive, but two times the beat drops out for him to emphasize the words bars and stars, making me want to smack somebody. Not only that, but we also have a promo video to go along with it.
Shame ft. Playdough and DJ Efechto
Shame employs Playdough (Deepspace5) and Dj Efechto (recently signed to Humble Beast) and it doesn’t fail to please. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard DJ Efechto with Sean. He also featured on Sean’s collaboration with Wonder Brown called ‘a love aPhiliated’ (which is an incredible album). Playdough’s a vet, so as expected he drops classic, semi-humorous verse with lines like “It’s a down low dirty shame, I came early. Showed with my pearly whites, I’m so purty, right? Tight. Bein this great, should be illegal in a 48…state…district court. I spit for sport, rap for change. Kick this game. I knicked a veign and it’s a shame.” it’s no surprise he has grown to be so respected for his unique style.
Blow Your Mind feat. Braille & DJ Tree
Blow your mind starts off with bass, flute and drum samples, then around :11 the “Blow Your Mind” vocal sample comes in. This is a funky laid back track just waiting for a slathering of Sean’s multi-syllabic style and Braille’s emcee tenure. Sean drops the following at :30 “Endure to skewer manure in the sewer so it allure fewer and fewer will mature to the truer.” Bars! How do people keep sleeping on Sean? His last name is ironic considering how many of his lines must go above people’s heads. At 1:20 Braille arrives and gives a little background to his introduction and progression in hip-hop, from young listener to hobby spitter to professional emcee. Lastly, DJ Tree scratches a sample that makes me chuckle a little everytime. None other than the infamous Will Ferrell playing ‘Taladega Nights’ Ricky Bobby.
Aware feat. Cas One & DJ Sean P
This track sounds like a feel-good summer track. Sean P scratches up the hook while among a number of topics, Sean challenges the opinion that he doesn’t fit into hip-hop due to his clothing, appearance and/or speech. “Certain naysayers say a brother don’t belong. I wear my clothes proper and speak eloquently. Value education and have a sense of symmetry between the worlds that I dabble in. I’m an artist and a family man, aint got no time for battlin. But if a young, dumb, chum wants some. comes saddlin towards the establishment, I’m bored with your babblin.”
I Do feat. Ricky Dean
I do is a track dedicated to Sean’s wife. He speaks about how she desires to have a song about her on every album, how they grew closer on the ‘Wife and Wagon’ tour where they traveled around in their station wagon and did numerous house shows, about how he has learned (and continues to) deny himself in order to be a better husband amongst numerous other points. Overall, it is really encouraging to hear an emcee talk about loving his wife and documenting that on an album. Especially with the current state of hip-hop and the kids he works with in the Hip-Hop 101 program.
Simple feat. DJ Efechto
This is one of the simplest (success), yet one of the best of the tracks on the album. Efechto’s sample from Common’s ‘The 6th Sense’ speaks to a completely different song concept, but fits nicely and reminds me of where hip-hop has come and hopefully where it will return. Although this is slightly off topic, it’s interesting to hear Sean reference Alistair Begg again. He was sampled numerous times in Sean’s first album ‘Scott Free‘. Most notably in the album’s namesake ‘Scott Free‘ where Alistair speaks about how the church is harming people and even our very own testimony by covering over the truth that we all struggle and fail. But I digress, Sean breaks down how he has progressed in his life, most importantly, in his walk with Christ.
Mmmm, that vocal sample wants to rip a hole in my heart…well done. Sean shares about the precious moments that stay with us; moments that drive along our soul. He shares about learning about Scott’s death and the resulting moments/events that occured afterward.
Losing You is a soulful, nostalgic track about people who at point were incredibly important parts of your life, but in time have drifted out of contact or relationship. The first verse is about friends that don’t talk anymore. In the second verse, Sean speaks about how important his wife is to him and not wanting to lose her. The third verse seems to be about Sean accepting that Scott is gone (although not truly lost), but understanding that he has Christ until he sees him again.
Everyone will face struggles, pain, hurt and fighting, but all those troubles will disappear in time, in Christ.
Not only is this an excellent album full of deep content, personal insight and grown-folk features, but the album also comes with all of the instrumentals as well. More and more artists seem to be doing this and I for one am pretty ecstatic about it. Not only is it nice to be able to listen to the instrumental album by itself, but I hope this prompts younger artists and listeners to appreciate something that frequently gets overlooked; DJ’s and production. Many have come to see a beat as nothing more than a means to an end; simply a background for an emcee to speak. We have a younger generation that would not only completely miss the talent and the point behind classics like ‘Eye of the Cyklops‘, ‘Music By Cavelight‘ or ‘Deadringer‘, but would deem them worthless. In the midst of a generation obsessed with swag, it seems the tides may be turning towards an appreciation of the art of hip-hop and the golden era again. Or at least that’s what I would like to think…