During a lengthy Q&A with Zane Lowe, Sean Don revealed some of the secrets that lie in his forthcoming effort, including a collaboration with Eminem titled “No Favors.”
“Eminem was the only person I heard that could be on that song,” Sean said. “It reminded me of why I am such an Eminem fan. It reminded me of why I fell in love with Eminem’s work. He’s unique. He’s special. When I first heard him, I feel like he was bringing new flows to the game. When he did this verse, it brought that feeling right back to me like, ‘Wow. This is a brand new energy.’ All the things he said were so necessary for the album…That’s what I was happy about. I’m glad that he addressed things, conceptually, that necessarily weren’t addressed. Super thoughtful.”
Em and Sean have been in the lab together — the two previously collaborated on “Detroit Vs. Everybody” — but “No Favors” came as a bit of a surprise.
“Before anything,” Sean said, “I was like, ‘You’re one of the only people I want on this album.’ I was telling him the story of the album, what it meant to me, and he honestly told me, ‘I want to be a part of it, but I don’t know if I’m gonna have time.’ That was what I got back when I was talking to him. I was like, ‘Damn. I don’t know if he’s gonna come through with it.’ Then, randomly, out of nowhere, I got the Eminem verse.
“You can just imagine, waking up and seeing a call from [Eminem’s manager] Paul Rosenberg, talking to him, him saying he did the verse,” Sean continued. “I go in the studio and I hear that verse…We heard this and we lost our minds, man. I’m just happy that if I did inspire it in any way, if I helped bring that out, I’m just happy that happened. I don’t want to take any credit for how good his verse is. Let’s be clear. That’s all Eminem. He did good. I remember talking to him on the phone. He was talking about what it meant and one of the things he said was, ‘I’m just happy to be a part of it and happy you like it.’ Eminem, man. Definitely, I appreciate that. That’s major for me.”
Sean isn’t done with new music. According to him, fans can expect four or five songs that didn’t make the I Decided. tracklisting. The project, which is reportedly undone at the moment, is due Feb. 3.
Listen to the full interview and see highlights from the conversation, including tidbits about André 3000, Rick Rubin, Jhené Aiko, The-Dream, and Kanye West, below.
On André 3000: “André 3000 came to my house and we sat and went through [the album]. When he was listening to it, he was like, ‘It feels like you didn’t waste one line.’ To hear somebody I respect on that level, obviously Dre 3000, that was an incredible moment for me. I feel like getting someone’s advice like that is more valuable than any feature…I don’t ever ask people [to collaborate] but there was talks of a collab between me and him and we were vibing to some things, but it just is not on this album. Maybe you’ll get it later.”
On Rick Rubin: “The feedback he gave was so important. It put a lot of things in perspective. I played it for him at a way earlier stage, too. He was very much loving the work…He told me how he felt about it, how much he respected it, and loved it. He only had a couple of little suggestions, minor things like, ‘Maybe you should change the music here. Why don’t you drop the drums here?’ Things along those lines. I’m lucky to have those contacts, those people who care enough about music.”
On Hall of Fame Era Struggles: “When that album came out, I was really distracted. I was in a terrible relationship. I was in a weird place in my life where I was relying on a lot of other people. That was the first time I experienced not being 100 percent satisfied with myself. It was the worst feeling ever. I had to read and get my mind straight mentally. I had to upgrade my mind, myself as a person. That’s an experience you can’t buy. That was one of the most greatest things.”
On New Music to Come: “Contracts and shit, publishing and stuff, it really restricts me from putting as many songs as I want to, on my album. There’s certain restrictions that I do have as an artist, putting my music out commercially. Honestly, if I wanted to put 20 songs on my album, I would have to pay for the excess songs. Any extra songs I have on my album, even on this one, I am paying for out of my own pocket. I know that doesn’t make any sense…Can’t have more than 11 songs. This is a real thing that I feel like holds me back. That’s why I put music out that’s should be on my albums that may not be on my album. That’s why ‘No More Interviews’ may not be on my album. Why? Not because it isn’t as good as other songs or anything like that. It’s strictly because there are restrictions people do not know about that artists have to go through. There may be four or five songs that I’m about to put out that aren’t on the album. You can listen to [them] and throw in your rotation with the album, but it’s just not a part of that body of work.”
On Children: “I don’t know when I’m gonna have kids. I’m in a relationship. But I don’t know when I’ll be able to…I’m so committed to my art, to my craft, to spending those hours on it. I don’t know when that will change. I eventually do want to have a family, have kids, but this is something I’ve wanted since I was in elementary.”
On Working with Jhené Aiko: “The chemistry, musically, is undeniable to me. That’s at least how I feel. When me and her got together, working on more music, we just had the idea, ‘Why not come together and form a group?’ … Me and her can make love songs, inspirational songs, and do it in a way that is different from what she does and different from what I do…TWENTY88 is on its own path, but I’m happy that it’s a part of this album too, even if it’s just for a little bit.”
On “Sunday Morning Jetpack” with The-Dream: “It’s that moment where you get lifted up by that positive energy…’Sunday Morning Jetpack’ is one of my favorites on the album. I’m talking about my granddad and grandma and we used to have Sunday dinner every Sunday. I remember when my grandma had her stroke, how things changed so crazy. It took me back to those times in my life.”
On Kanye West: “I don’t know if I can put the advice into words. When you know somebody that long, somebody like Kanye, I’ve taken so much. I’ve taken the hunger. That guy, the hunger he has is incredible. He’s given me a sense of work ethic that can’t be beat, a sense for perfection, of making sure it’s the best. That’s my brother right there. He saw the potential in me.”