Release Date: Aug 27, 2013
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Rap, Hardcore Rap, Midwest Rap
Big Sean :: Hall of FameG.O.O.D MusicAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaPublic perception can play a vital role in shaping the overall viewpoint of an artist, and occasionally it can be crystallised within a single song. For Big Sean, that unfortunately reality has hit home with the unofficial release of an album cut that (allegedly) didn't make "Hall of Fame" due to ‘sampling issues'. The song in question is, of course, the inescapable "Control" featuring a short but sweet offering from Jay Electronica and an axis-shifting verse from Kendrick Lamar.
The artist known as Big Sean has recently released the much talked about "Control," appeared on a song with girlfriend Naya Rivera and dropped his highly anticipated album, Hall of Fame. Continuing from where his debut, Finally Famous, left off, Big Sean opens Hall of Fame with the positively charged "Nothing is Stopping You." Reflecting upon his success, it becomes evident that progress is the backbone of this album. He dives into this theme deeper with "You Don't Know," featuring Ellie Goulding, which explores EDM production, and the money-hungry "Guap." Despite his victories, Big Sean humbles himself with personal songs about family and love.
Originally announced as having that "classic feel" with skits and other whatnot, Big Sean's sophomore effort arrives with only one skit, the awfully upfront bit of erotica dubbed "Freaky. " It introduces the standout number "MILF," where the Detroit rapper goes Southern strip club with Juicy J and Nicki Minaj acting as the new Ying Yang Twins lineup, and while Hall of Fame offers up plenty of these vibrant, exciting moments, that "classic feel" is nowhere to be found. Choppy overall flow and the feeling those skits and joiners might have helped place it a notch below Sean's knockout debut, but the rapper's growth (his nostalgic reminiscing on the opening "Nothing Is Stopping You" is a masterful mix of effortless and poetic) and his continued embrace of artistic freedom (check "Ashley," where guest Miguel blasts off "I'm just so f**kin' lucky you're my girl" on a polished, otherwise radio-friendly ballad) certainly right the ship.
Ever wondered what the soundtrack to success might sound like? Chances are it would probably be similar to Big Sean’s Hall Of Fame. And why wouldn’t it? With the release of his Detroit mixtape, illustrious verses on Cruel Summer and a collab with pop supernova Justin Bieber, the past year has been exceedingly G.O.O.D. to Sean. Named one of the best dressed by GQ magazine, he even segued into fashion launching his own clothing line, Aura Gold, and releasing his own pair of Adidas.The year 2013 continued to propel the 25-year-old rapper to new heights.
As far as Big Sean should be concerned, Kendrick Lamar picked a hell of a time to get pissed off. It wasn’t too long ago that “Control” dropped like a nuclear bomb and imploded each end of the Internet’s social media universe. Nobody could even comprehend the balls it took to go after Every Important Rapper the genre has seen, sure, but the minute Lamar name-dropped his collaborator among his list of casualties…whoa, there.
Big Sean's second LP might've already been overshadowed by a Big Sean song that isn't on it – "Control," where guest Kendrick Lamar carpet-bomb-dissed a generation of rappers, including Big Sean. It's too bad: The Detroit MC gets over on congeniality and crisp delivery, even when his lyrics are pro forma. Producers No I.D. and Key Wane give him sharp, energetic tracks, and "First Chain" hints at what might've been a great concept in a year when his hometown went bankrupt: "Police only work 12-hour shifts/'Cause in Detroit, that's cheaper than the bailout, bitch." Such full-throated realism takes insight and gravitas he doesn't quite have.
Big Sean is in a different zone. Just a few years ago, Sean was working his way up to becoming the ambassador for his city with a number of mixtapes that caught fire, namely 2010’s Finally Famous Vol 3: Big and 2012’s Detroit. In a successful attempt at finding a larger audience, Sean’s delivered plenty of potential crossover tracks such as “High Rise,” “Memories” and “Mula.” While those became huge records for his Internet fanbase, the confident MC stepped it up on his debut Finally Famous, which included some of his strongest songs and biggest hits like “Marvin & Chardonnay” (featuring Kanye West and Roscoe Dash) and “Dance (A$$)”.
Sophomore slump? Maybe not, says the D-town native “Hoe, shut the f-ck, up!” That’s how the argument between Big Sean and his critics ended, very early—2 a.m. to be exact—on the morning of Thursday, August 1st. It was a contentious conversation that lasted quite a few months, after “Guap”—which most chalked up to be a lazy follow-up to his last rap hit of the same concept–was released late last year, and his guest verses on a couple noteworthy mainstream cuts (Pusha T‘s “Who I Am,” The-Dream‘s “Pu**y”) couldn’t hold a half-lit candle to his previous contributory work from just one year prior.
There's always been something off-kilter about hip hop stemming from Detroit. As weird and wonderful as the city that birthed them, acts have built up independent crews, separate from the rest of America. Esham started an empire, opening a door for Insane Clown Posse's own peculiar path, along with Royce Da 5'9", Obie Trice, Slum Village and more, neither East nor West.
How hard is Big Sean working? Big Sean is working very hard. You can hear it in the deliberateness of his rhymes, which sound labored and dense, rarely smooth. And you can hear it in the content of the rhymes, too: on “Hall of Fame,” his second album, he’s constantly reiterating just how much effort a career like his takes: “I’m even working half days on my day off,” “I woke up working like I’m Mexican” (ugh).