The rap-based rise of Sean and Marley

Sean (L) and Marley (R) on the day of filming the 'Oh Yeah' music video. Photo: Tim Hans.

Young Penrith-based duo Sean and Marley are smashing stereotypes around disability, finding online fame with their debut song, ‘Oh Yeah’. Story by youth editor Corin Shearston.

Coming ‘straight outta Penrith’, Sean and Marley are a brotherly pair of lively young men who love to spread fun and laughter through music and entertainment. From their early onstage performances at Penrith Primary School in 2013, the duo have shared their inspiring energy and attitude with diverse audiences, while both living with Down syndrome – also known as Down’s syndrome or trisomy 21. Recently, Marley has been immersing himself in hip hop and R’n’B while imagining his possible future fame. Sean continues his cultural obsession with Kylie Minogue and loves enjoyable pop music.

Now, budding stars Sean (aged 19) and Marley (18) have officially entered the realm of online videos. On 18 January this year, their YouTube channel Get Down with Sean and Marley published its first video. In the clip, we are introduced to Sean and Marley through an interview interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage from the recording session of their debut song, a rap track called ‘Oh Yeah’. The song was produced by Tim Hans, a Penrith-based piano teacher and bassist. He explains that working around Sean and Marley’s physical limitations inspired much artistic creativity. 

Sean (R) and Marley (L) on the day of filming the ‘Oh Yeah’ music video. Photo: Tim Hans.

After one recording session at Tim’s home studio in Penrith last year, Tim constructed ‘Oh Yeah’ with what was captured spontaneously. Prompted by hand gestures, Sean’s passionate ‘yeahs’ ended up becoming an important feature of the song. Tim reveals that he was originally unsure as to how he should approach the project, but he describes the process as a positive learning journey that incorporated some fresh approaches to recording.

“When I got it to a place where I was happy with, I sent it to them and they loved it”, he explains. 

The ‘Oh Yeah’ clip went live on YouTube on 5 February and is carried by its upbeat and memorable vibe, synced up to a pro-shot music video filmed by Tim’s housemate, videographer Andrew Mell. The entirety of the song’s verses are improvised by Marley, while the song features a chorus and vocal hook from Sean. The clip follows the duo as they saunter through Penrith like bold gangsta rappers.

‘Oh Yeah’ by Sean and Marley Video: Get Down with Sean and Marley/YouTube.

From cruising in the back of an open car boot to flexing their style on city steps and muscling down the high street, Sean and Marley own the personas of cool urban dudes. Recalling the day of the filming session, Tim states, “We just filmed them doing their thing … it’s the kind of thing that they really want to do when it comes to this project.” 

Tim praises the efforts of Sean and Marley, who have both utilised  knowledge from their past performing experiences to present fresh and exciting YouTube content in 2021.

“They’re so keen to make stuff”, he told the Sentinel. “Sean really loves dancing [and its the] same with Marley, Marley totally adapts the role of rapper in a music video.”

“Performing in front of a camera is something they are really suited to.”

Although Tim has taught piano to physically impaired students in the past, this is his first time producing a track for people with a disability. He explains that the collaboration occurred quite naturally, late last year, through his girlfriend Isabel being friends with Sean’s family. Upon learning about Tim’s career in music, Sean’s mum thought it would be a good idea for Tim to encourage her son to pursue some sort of creative weekly outlet, and Marley happily participated.

Describing his relationship with Sean, Marley states, “I love him … I help him so much.”

Sean, meanwhile, describes Marley as his “best friend”. 

Sean (L) and Marley (R) hanging out in a games arcade. Photo: Tim Hans

Although it only features two videos, and only launched last month, Sean and Marley’s YouTube channel already has 112 subscribers at time of writing, and their song has over 4000 views. Many appreciative viewers’ comments can be seen under the clip for ‘Oh Yeah’, prompting thoughts of virtual viral fame. 

Regarding the encouragement of disabled creatives in contributing to genuine entertainment content, Tim believes there is an emerging trend here. It seems that plenty of community programs attempt to produce creative pieces from similar people, but it’s tricky for resulting works to achieve the same potential as Sean and Marley’s music video. Sean and Marley’s work will hopefully develop the trend. 

Fulfilling the spirit of variety, the next piece of content for the channel will be an episode of a cooking show, which was filmed at Sean’s family home. It’s due to drop in a couple of weeks. Sean and Marley’s fun-loving chemistry is sure to drive the channel in a quirky and memorable direction!

Corin Shearston is the youth editor of the Sydney Sentinel.