Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
Artistically, three is the charm for Big Sean as Dark Sky Paradise is much more expansive than previous efforts, sometimes grinding with executive producer Kanye West's love of the dark, and other times bouncing with the snark, swagger, and style that propelled this Detroit rapper to the top. "Paradise" is a prime example of the latter as it busts into the strip club with a Mike-Will-Made-It beat as Sean strings expletives together for an intricate weave, but the man who yearned to be Finally Famous with his debut got it, and is no longer drunk on fame, because as the song explains, the hangover is well underway. Just as infectious and twice as slick, "I Don't Fuck with You" featuring E-40 drops sly lines like "These ho's chase bread, all day/She got a bird brain," while the great "Now I wear v-necks, people ask what happened to the crew?" comes from "Win Some, Lose Some," a key track that links the pop side of the album to the problems side.
For Big Sean fans, it’s almost unanimous that Detroit was better than Hall of Fame. From stories of the city by Common, Jeezy and Snoop Lion to solidifying his brand of idiosyncratic raps with “Mula” and “FFOE,” G.O.O.D. Music’s ad-lib king was on the cusp of having his moment in Hip Hop. In years after Hall Of Fame’s mixed response — he’s discussed openly about the sophomore slump curse — Sean has changed his game plan.
Occasionally, when he means to tug at your chordae tendineae, Big Sean raps like a Very Special Episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Like Will at his sitcom’s melodramatic lowest, when the director slides the dimmer, Sean will shed his abundance of puns and bravado, and he will rap a few autobiographical truths, put modestly enough that I never think of him as a brand selling me a $10 album. I believe his details and find him compelling, despite the long, unfortunate history of hashtag punchlines and whatnot.
Big Sean had a ceiling, it was believed. When the Detroit rapper signed with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2007, it wasn’t because he was some mad visionary like Kanye is. From his ’07 mixtape Finally Famous to the 2011 album of the same name (if not all the way to 2013’s Hall of Fame), Sean had a lock on a charismatic — and sometimes poppy to the point of being soft — rapping style.
Established rap careers can die suddenly nowadays, and not too long ago it looked as if Big Sean’s might wilt away early, if not exactly tragically. Though Sean's existence as a rapper was more acknowledged than appreciated, it was undeniable that he had a way of running into hits, and sometimes creating them, too. But his second album Hall of Fame, released in the summer of 2013, floundered: After scoring a run of Top 40 hits off both his debut album and various G.O.O.D.
The cloudy forecast of expectation hovering over Big Sean's third studio album resulted in a blessing in disguise. Although the Detroit rapper's single "I Don't Fuck With You" was an incendiary success, a string of controversies — previous commercial flops, a newfound role in the tabloids from multiple public relationships and a reputation as a "hit or miss" artist — were enough to draw concern for the G.O.O.D. Music rapper's latest.
“I feel blessed,” declares Big Sean on his new album — and he has good reason to feel that way. “Dark Sky Paradise” makes up for the disappointment of his second major label album, “Hall of Fame” from 2013, while fulfilling the promise of his celebrated debut on Kanye West’s label, “Finally Famous.” It’s a crisp, confident album, marked by Sean’s uncommonly clean delivery. Unlike many rappers, Sean uses fine diction to his advantage.
Over four years and two albums, Detroit rapper Big Sean has made his biggest mark as a semi-novelty hitmaker (the awesomely stupid "Dance (A$$)," the giddily spiteful "IDFWU") and the worst part of at least five Kanye West songs. Big Sean is G.O.O.D. Music "trying to make 'fetch' happen" — keep supporting this guy, and maybe eventually he'll turn into a great artist.
Big Sean :: Dark Sky ParadiseGOOD Music/Def JamAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaIt's lonely being a Big Sean fan. Sure, he makes occasional ignorant hit records for the masses; but he's a particularly deep MC when the mood takes him ("One Man Can Change the World"), one that can blend intense wordplay ("Dark Sky"), strong virtues and genuine innovation. His mixtapes are usually excellent, his albums traditionally solid but disappointing.
If heartbreak creates the best art, then Big Sean had the perfect platform to deliver his own version of 808s & Heartbreak. But life throws curveballs, and six months after breaking off his engagement to Naya Rivera Sean found himself back on his feet with new love Ariana Grande and an album full of emotional roller coasters, indignant boasts, clever punchlines and his trademark bravado that stands far and away as his best work yet. Dark Sky Paradise is Sean’s third album for Def Jam, which means he’s reached that defining point in an artist’s career when it’s truly make or break time.
Here’s one way to get over a tortured breakup, Los Angeles-style. If you happen to be a million-selling producer and songwriter, you can hole up for six months in Room 39 of the Chateau Marmont, set up a recording studio, turn wounds and sulking into songs, and invite a multigenerational ….
Twin ShadowEclipse Poptimism’s dark side rears its head on Twin Shadow’s third LP Eclipse. After deriding his own music as “too elitist,” George Lewis, Jr. switches out guitars for…not guitars, and stakes pretty much everything on an album of enormous, heart-on-sleeve arena ballads that should validate an oft-mocked pop form but too often invites that same mocking.
Pain often leads to introspection and, sometimes, great art, but it just seems to have made Big Sean bitter. His third effort, despite creative production, finds him wallowing in hurt, expressing such deep resentment toward women that it becomes numbing. This is clearly a catharsis record after his high-profile breakup with Naya Rivera, which left scars that hip-hop bravado can’t hide.