Stefflon Don - The One [Official Music Video]
Stefflon Don - The One
After months of teasing, Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Stefflon Don finally unveiled his highly anticipated sophomore album, The One in October 2018. The record is a significant departure from his self-titled debut album, and is filled with more mature themes. While previous songs focused on everyday subjects such as love and heartbreak, the new material confronts the listener with issues such as loneliness, alienation, and the feeling of not fitting in. Front-man Donny Walkerson explores the motivations behind the album's creation in a heartfelt note published alongside the record.
The Making Of The One
If you're not yet familiar, Stefflon Don is a 40-something singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, who first found mainstream fame in Canada back in 2015, when the video for his debut single “Show Me” went viral, accumulating more than 300 million views on TikTok. Since then, the performer has gained a massive international following, with his hit single “Summertime” becoming his best-known song and earning the artist a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2018.
The One is the follow-up to Stefflon Don's debut album, and was produced by Don himself along with Jason “JLS” Lapidus (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift), Mike Dean (Adele, Pink, Taylor Swift), and Manny Marroquin (Kylie Jenner, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj). The album's title track was released as the lead single in mid-2018 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Top 100 (and number one on Billboard's Top Canadian Albums Chart).
A Second Chance At “Mature Content”
While the singer's first album leaned heavily on “mature content”—meaning songs with lyrics—The One's content is a little more family-friendly. “The reason this album is more mature is because I think a lot of the topics that I've dealt with in the past have taught me a lot about myself and life,” Walker-Stonch explained to Billboard. “So I feel like this album is a chance for me to kind of give back and share some of those things with my fans.”
The Toronto Star's Mark Kennedy opined that the shift in tone isn't that surprising, as Walker-Stonch grew up in the age of TikTok and grew into his role as an artist in the public eye. “It is rather telling that someone his age would be making such an album,” Kennedy writes. “The singer's perspective and point of view on life have certainly matured; as has his music.” The Globe and Mail's Chris Beck echoed that the album's themes of disconnection and the struggle to find belonging are resonant for anyone of a certain age. “The One is a bit more introspective for a more mature listener,” Beck writes. “It wrestles with questions of loneliness and isolation, and how to find comfort in a world that can feel increasingly unstable. For someone his age, this stuff probably feels pretty familiar.”
A Personal Album
It's been a whirlwind couple of years for Walker-Stonch. In between touring and releasing music, the singer found the time to found a record label with friend David Campbell, and went on to release two EPs. The first of these, Alone, features five tracks of heart-breakingly beautiful acoustic guitar music and is representative of the album's more mellow side. While a few of the songs on Walker-Stonch's first two EPs were already included on The One, this is the first time these songs have been made available to the public in such a wide array of configurations (the EPs only had four songs each).
The first song, “Alone,” was released along with the EP and served as the lead single. The song was written and performed entirely by Walker-Stonch, and finds the singer grappling with the idea of being alone for the first time in his life. “I've never been alone in my entire life,” he sings, sounding both vulnerable and hopeful. “I'm not sure how to feel / How to act, what to say, when there's no one around.”
The second song, “I Want You,” was also released along with the EP and was co-written by Walker-Stonch and Canadian songwriter and producer Martin Tischler. The song finds the singer pleading with a lover to return his calls and messages, “I want you,” he pleads. “I want you to come home / I want you to hold me / I want you to love me / I want you to tell me that you need me.” The song ends with both singers professing their love for each other—although it's unclear whose voice we're hearing at the end.
The Lyrical Deepening
Thematically, The One is a bit of a roller coaster. For every song that addresses a serious topic, there's another that explores a lighter subject. In “Sober,” for example, Walker-Stonch sings about reconciling with his estranged father, while “Shine” is all about self-love. The songstress has spoken openly about his struggles with addiction and self-image, and The One is filled with both mature and relatable subject matter.
While he's never been one to shy away from topics such as relationships and self-love, Walker-Stonch has said that he wanted to make this album more organic and unfiltered. “I really tried to go back to basics as much as possible,” he told Billboard. “I wanted to make something that was natural and real.” The result is an album that is both heartfelt and universal. “These songs are all about finding a place in the world and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Walker-Stonch said in a statement. “If you're living your best life, you don't need approval from anyone else. You need to be comfortable in your own company. That's where I'm at right now.”
The One In Concert
Even those who enjoy rap and hip-hop music may be surprised to learn that Walker-Stonch is actually a big fan of the rap genre. “I grew up listening to hip-hop and rap, so it's really natural for me to do that,” he told Billboard. “I love the energy and the creativity of hip-hop and rapping. I think it's one of the most unique art forms out there.”
The singer has also said that he sees similarities between himself and some of the music's greats, going so far as to call himself a “modern day artist that gets compared to legends.” The comparisons are certainly there. Just like some of the greatest rappers, Walker-Stonch is also fond of using his voice as a weapon. The One is filled with anthems of empowerment, and while some of the songs are about finding joy in life, others are quite the opposite. Themes such as self-love and positivity are prevalent throughout the record.
The album ends with one of the most exciting releases of the year—and one of the most unique and interesting album openers in recent memory. “No Idea” is an interlude between the traditional album closer and the title track. The song features jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, and finds the two collaborators celebrating the unique sounds of their native Canada. “Thank you, Canada, for providing such incredible sounds and creating a melting pot that is all our own,” Botti and Walker-Stonch sing along. “We appreciate everything you've ever done for us and all the sounds you've given us, helping to make us who we are today. We love you dearly.”
The Next Phase
While Canada has been lucky enough to have a musical figurehead like Walker-Stonch for the past few years, his future plans after The One are just as exciting. The singer has said that he'd like to explore a range of topics, including but not limited to, self-care, relationships, and family. “I feel like I've gotten to a place in my life where I can really explore my creativity and who I am as an artist,” he told Billboard. “I want to keep going as long as I can and keep making music. After that, who knows?”