If you’re from Toronto or a fan of the city’s diverse music scene, the name Sean Leon surely rings a bell. He’s been making music for nearly a decade; his debut mixtape, Ninelevenne, The Tragedy dropped in 2013 and featured two appearances from the now international star Daniel Caesar. Since then, Leon has consistently been working towards being one of Toronto’s most impactful names — all while staying independent.
As the founder of the IXXI Initiative, Leon was monumental in the rise of fellow member Daniel Caesar, and the two have a rather impressive resume as a duo. The first time Leon appeared on a Daniel Caesar song was on “Paradise,” off of his 2015 debut EP, Pilgrim’s Paradise. Leon has appeared on each of Caesar’s following projects, including the 2017 GRAMMY-nominated Freudian. He also has a writing credit on one of Bieber’s latest mega-hits, “Peaches,” on which Caesar is also featured. The relationship between these two Toronto powerhouses has proven to be beneficial for both, with Caesar gaining mainstream success and Leon reserving his talents to behind the scenes contributions.
After connecting with Ye in L.A. in 2019, thanks to his relationship with River Tiber, the two went on to form an active working relationship – Leon received writing credits on 2019’s Jesus Is King and also contributed to the album’s track-sequencing. These contributions went on to earn him his first GRAMMY award, after the album won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 2021 award show. One of Leon’s demos, previously titled “The Glade,” was the first song he ever played for Ye and it eventually ended up on the deluxe version of Donda — now titled “Up from the Ashes.”
Ye returned with Donda 2 a mere six months later; the rollout and release has been messy to say the least, but one of the highlights was Leon receiving a credited feature for his assertive performance on the eleventh track, “Sci Fi.” As Ye premiered the album at a live listening event in Miami a few weeks ago, many recognizable voices echoed the stadium’s speakers with their feature verses (Baby Keem, Travis Scott, Future, the late XXXTENTACTION, etc) — with his name in the mix, Leon had the most to prove, and he delivered.
Putting his personal music accomplishments aside, Leon’s career has always been rooted in creativity and expression, regardless of the lack of mainstream credit he’s received. He founded PUPIL in 2019, who describe themselves as “a production and cultural organization that creates success stories through ethical development, design and distribution.” With clothing and of course music projects in the works under this umbrella, an emphasis on the future of health and technology is at the forefront of the brand.
His latest project, God’s Algorithm, which was available on streaming services for a brief period of time, now lives as an immersive experience, free of outside judgment and an emphasis on creativity. It marks yet another new era in Leon’s career, as he continues to break barriers and be an influential name out of Toronto.
His creative input thus far on the Toronto scene and beyond has been monumental, helping push Daniel Caesar’s talents to the mainstream and providing his writing, producing and sequencing talents to the likes of Ye and Justin Bieber. Of course his appearance on Donda 2 could push his career to new heights and lead to an increased amount of eyes on him, but the truth is that Sean Leon has always lived and thrived behind the scenes. He’s never been interested in being a popstar, so instead he’s allowed his talents to be impactful in his own ways.