Interview – Sean Little
BigSto: So whats up Sean its nice to be able to interview you and congrats on all your success as an artist!
Sean Little: Big Sto! It’s great to sit down (at my keyboard) with you, and thank you for your kind words.
Rapzilla: For those who dont know, let the people know who Sean Little is?
Sean Little: I am Sean Little dot com 🙂 I am an independent hip hop artist, born and raised in Cincinnati, OH & recently relocated with my wife to her home town, Evansville, IN.
Rapzilla: How did you get into hip hop and what caused and motivated you to start rapping?
Sean Little: In a lot of ways, I’m a product of my environment. Growing up throughout the city of Cincinnati, raised by my mother in a single-parent home, my big brother and uncle exposed me to a lot of hip hop at a young age. In the early 90’s as an adolescent I was listening to 2 Live Crew, Eazy E, Too Short, NWA, & Snoops ‘Doggystyle’.
My motivation to start rapping came in the Summer of 1999. I got kicked out of his mom’s house and moved into a sterile suburb with my father about 30 miles north of the city. The day I moved in, I met my neighbor and soon to be best friend, James aka JayRob. Although we both felt lost and out of place in our new neighborhood, we found refuge in one another and a shared love for hip hop and basketball. That summer was spent playing endless one-on-one games, listening to hip-hop. Noticing my knack for writing poetry, Jay encouraged me to rap. Initially I resisted, but Jay’s persistence won me over. So, at age 15 I created my first rap tape with JayRob, playing instrumental beats on a boom box, simultaneously rapping into a Casio tape recorder.
Rapzilla: I havent got a chance to listen in yet, but tell us a little bit about your debut project Scott Free
Sean Little: On “Story of Glory,” the first song on Scott Free, I say Scott Free is “a very personal piece of work that I have given myself to in hopes of representing who I have become as an artist, a man, and a child of God.” It’s a healing album. I created it in the 18 months following the sudden and unexpected death of my 25 year old big brother Scott. He died of an overdose two months after becoming a Christian. Scott Free speaks dually to the firm conviction that I hold regarding the self-sufficient and exclusive redemptive work of Jesus alone (John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed”) as well as the personal theological, cultural, and social liberation I have experienced through the refining and pruning process of my brother’s death.
Rapzilla: Your latest project A Love aPhiliated was done with Wonder Brown and beats entirely made by Vintage. How did you hook up with both of them?
Sean Little: Wonder is a dear friend and brother. We’re both native Cincinnatians, and a number of years ago we met one another in our city’s scene. We gravitated towards each another on a personal level, and after developing a friendship, Wonder reached out and suggested we do an album together. At the time, Theory Hazit was living down the street from me. I kicked it with Wonder and Theory a few times, and Theory got me hip to Vintage. Thinking back on it, I assume it was when Theory was working on Lord Fire, but I may be wrong. After hearing how ill Vintage beats were, I reached out and connected with him, so both Wonder and I were working with him individually, then we decided to share some beats we had planned for solo project, and complete the album with Vintage exclusively.
Rapzilla: Lets just dive into the album, what is the message or the theme that the three of you are trying to convey with this album?
Sean Little: Unfortunately, Vintage wasn’t a part of post-production. Wonder and I created the music well before we decided on the aPhiliated concept. After stepping back from a completed portion of the album Wonder presented the conceptual idea and with a little brain storming we decided on incorporating Philia, one of the four ancient greek words for love, namely, a brotherly love. What Wonder and I are communicating is our commonality; from the city we were raised in, countless personal similarities and experiences, and a desire to remain obedient to the gifts and talents we were given. Yet, all of these similarities are surpassed by the greatest manifestation of brotherly love we have for one another, in Jesus.
Rapzilla: One thing I really felt with album is the escalation of seriousness in the lyrics as one progresses through the album, with the fun of Hey to the super serious Prayer care to explain?
Sean Little: This was intentional. Maybe not from the beginning of the process, but surely once we were involved in creating an entire body of work. The development in concept and content becomes increasingly personal and intimate, which is a natural progression relationally. The more the album plays, the more we share ourselves, and that is exactly what we desired. The longer you know someone, the better you get to know them. The relational experience of life is expressed in the composition of this album.
Rapzilla: The last three tracks are the ones that hit me the hardest, the barriers of both of you guys drop and you guys just express yourselves as human beings that are following Christ, what was the ideas behind the songs and do you want the listeners to grab from those tracks?
Sean Little: At the core of both Wonder and myself is a pursuit of excellence and honesty. I would hope that the first ten songs are, in their own right, as honest as the concluding three are. Your mention of barriers spurs that thought, I hope that there aren’t any barriers in my/our music. With that said, Just Don’t Know, After Me, and Prayer are simply reflections of that desire to be genuine. Wonder is responsible for Just Don’t Know. The aim on that joint was to explore our own broken realities as we share in the human experience, which is sobering and perhaps more blunt than we choose to be at times. The entire song is Wonder’s idea, even the content of my verse. He asked me to share about Scott’s death and I gladly took the opportunity to continue to reflect on and process that experience. Wonder had the beat that we ended up using for After Me. The first night I heard that joint I made him burn it to a disc and I zoned out with it on repeat for hours. The vocal sample informed the concept and I told Wonder I wanted to write a song apologizing. I have more to apologize about, so I took two verses. Prayer was the last song we did for the album, and it is exactly that, a prayer. What you can hear in Prayer is differentiation in our theology, nonetheless, an absolute shared reality that the Jesus is Lord of each of us. Through the differentiation of each of these songs, I believe there is a primary element that I desired to communicate; namely, that God alone is to be glorified, and irrespective of man’s willingness to submit to that, He will continue to glorify Himself. God alone is Holy, Righteous, Just, Without Partiality, and God alone is Saviour and Redeemer. I am entirely the benefactor of who He is, and the work He has accomplished, which I can not add to or take away from.
Rapzilla: Tell me a little about Wonder Browns lyricism, the two of you just seemed to click on this album.
Sean Little: Thanks man, I agree. Wonder Brown is a poet and it’s really a site to watch him create, I learn a lot from him. This album is an account of something far greater than two guys making music. Wonder Brown is my brother, and a love aPhiliated is a snap shot into us, individually and collectively. Listening to the record is like being a fly on a wall in a room that Wonder and I are chilling in.
Rapzilla: When youre not banging out rhymes what does Mr. Little do in his pastime?
Sean Little: I am a husband to my beloved bride and I am currently working with IMPACT Ministries, located in downtown Evansville, IN, developing a hip hop program which I will direct.
Rapzilla: What music did you listen to growing up and who are your favorite artists now?
Sean Little: Growing up it was primarily hip hop. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I listened to a lot of music that my big brother Scott and my uncle Lance listened to. As my own taste matured, I grew fond of a lot of NYC rap, such as Rakim, Big L, Nas, Biggie, Kweli, Mos, and Ghostface to name a few; as well as cats like Outkast, Common, and Black Thought. Beyond hip hop, I dig classic Motown and soul records, as well as bands like The Eagles and Nirvana. Currently, my favorite artists range from Theory Hazit, Braille, LMNO, Playdough, and Mr. J, to Derek Webb, Norah Jones, Nirvana, and John Mayer. I appreciate excellent and intelligent music.
Rapzilla: So with A Love aPhiliated out of the way whats next musically for Sean Little?
Sean Little: Touring, working on full-length projects, side projects, and collaborations.
Rapzilla: Alright Sean before I let you go, is there anything I missed that youd like your fans ..cough like where you can get the new album and listen to music by you .cough!!
Sean Little: You can stream both Scott Free and a love aPhiliated in their entirety at http://www.iamseanlittle.com and if you purchase directly from my site, you receive an immediate album download upon purchase of the physical albums. You can also purchase from iTunes.