More than a decade removed from his breakthrough in the mid 2000’s, Big Sean today is certainly as famous as he hoped to be, yet from an artistry standpoint one might suggest that it’s his fame that’s his only quality worth mentioning. Truthfully speaking his pen game has always been decent but never extraordinary, he has some substance to his music but it often feels more surface level, and separate from working with great producers it’s really his namesake and celebrity girlfriends that keeps him more relevant than most.
Yet in fairness that’s not all entirely true, as Big Sean also has a ton of HIT RECORDS that can not be dismissed or ignored, and his live performance is also worth noting as his rapid delivery is a talent that would leave most MCs off the beat and out of breath. Furthermore his discography is pretty decent, as Finally Famous, Hall of Fame, and Dark Sky Paradise all have their fair share of quality records, yet even still most would admit that Sean is still looking for that first undeniable classic.
With that in mind his fourth studio album was released this year entitled I Decided, and it’s critiqued track by track below to see if he finally reached that level
"God, I have been doing the same thing in the same place, working the same job for 45 years. You know that. Shit just flew by. What am I really even doing?... This ain't what I'm supposed to be doing in my life, man” 🔥🔥🔥 intro narrated by actor J.R. Starr and it’s all cinematic
Light ft Jeremih
“Got the whole city on fire, boy this the flow that got Steph Curry inspired, this the flow that got Lebron James finna rewire, this the flow that got my whole family finna retire” Nice opening record that’s exactly what it should be… not mad at this at all…
“Look I woke up in beast mode, with my girl that's Beauty and the Beast though, been top 5 these ****** sleep though, only thing that sold out is the seats though” Fire production by Ahmier Johnson, Metro Boomin & Young Berg (the latter of whom’s quickly produced more than a couple hits and I should probably start respecting his production more), and this is the perfect Big Sean commercial single type of record and truth be told I love this record. One of the best records to come out this year.
No Favors ft Eminem
“Motherfuck all your comparisons (Fuck 'em!), I've been talkin to God like that's my therapist, I'm African-American in America, I ain't inherit shit but a millionaire under 30 so he must be hearin shit” Sean flexed on this but Eminem… Slim Shady post Eminem Show/8 Mile hasn’t been able to recapture his signature sound at all, perhaps separate from that one record with Yelawolf that almost fooled me for a second. Even still on his best day Eminem is an acquired taste with a certain level of nostalgic appeal, but iconic status aside he completely fell off and this is one of many verses that are damn near impossible to even listen to.
Jump Out The Window
“I think I’m ready to jump out the window...” Produced by famed producer Key Wane this is one of the best records off the album, where Big Sean coasts on this even with the Mario Kart/Princess lyrics... that are effective in meaning albeit lackluster delivery...
“Girls from law school in this bitch, yeah, they paralegals, barely 21, that's very legal, but they doing shit that's probably barely legal, aw, man” On it’s best day this would be a fire interlude, as produced by Fuse 100 & 808 Mafia this has all the right energy even though it plays like debable filler.
Same Time Pt 1 ft TWENTY88
“You remember when you came to Sweden, I came too and we treated the hotel room like the Garden of Eden, chill I won't tell all your secrets” Truth be told I wasn’t mad at the TWENTY88 project, that for those that don’t know is the collaborative duo between Sean and girlfriend Jhene Aiko, and while that project I found rather enjoyable… this particular record struggles to have the same appeal
“Feel like you owe me checks, owe me time, owe me sex, long nights, no reply, I got no regrets” This is decent enough production from Travis Scott, Amaire Johnson & DJ Mustard… but this one really doesn’t hit at all… definite filler and a debatable SKIP
Halfway Off the Balcony
“I'm the livin' proof that you don't need a master's just to be a masterpiece, people passin' faster than I'm passin' weed, my daddy tell me, 'stay strong, son and be the man you have to be, holdin' ship down, don't crash at sea'" Produced again by Amaire Johnson this one’s overall a decent album cut no more no less.
Voices In My Head/Stick To The Plan
“Stay focused, pay attention who you getting close with, distance yourself from negative energy, voices in my head, they say it's meant for me, I, I, I, you in my way, bitch it's no sympathy, I, I, I, been plotting this since Elementary” Produced by Metro Boomin & DJ Dahi this one has a decent enough instrumental but it’s definitely not a standout… yet instead surprisingly enough it’s debatable filler and an arguable SKIP!
Sunday Morning Jetpack ft The Dream
“This the feeling know that I've been missing some days, this feel like I'm headed to paradise one way, this feel like the family dinners that we used to have on Sunday, with Grandma in the kitchen making rum cake, or this spread she used to do for Thanksgiving, man, this feels like the first time I heard Killa Cam…” Now this is one of the highlights and a clear stand out off the new album, produced again by Amaire Johnson complete with a decent bridge provided by The Dream, this one is definitely good for the vibe…
"You tried to keep me away from temptation, introduced me to The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Isley Brothers, dancing so hard the living room shaking, yeah we dance in the house, my mama's the man of the house, Mama you too good for them men, even dad, you too good for him” Another borderline great record off the album in which Sean raps about his mother and his strong family dynamic, significant content even if it’s somewhat repetitive at this point considering all his previous records.
Sacrifices ft Migos
“I get it my way from Friday to Friday, my girl is a mix of Aaliyah and Sade, I came a long way from that Marvin and Chardonnay, I pull out the driveway like I’m in a car chase, speeding…” Another decent album cut produced this time by Allen Ritter along with Metro Boomin, if only the hook had more juice behind it this could have been tough with the Migos on it. This is decent nonetheless.
Bigger Than Me ft Flint Chozen Choir & Starrah
“The hood is America's lost and found, where ***** get lost and never found” The last record is one of the more memorable cuts off the album, with introspective lyrics amplified by the church choir (no matter how many times this has been done before - still fire), and an outro that puts it all in perspective. Far from earth shattering but very nicely done all the same. Truth be told this is my favorite record off the album.
In conclusion this album is actually significantly better than how it was received on Twitter, yet regardless of internet praise the fans still came out and supported, as I Decided has already went Gold at a time when mumble rappers can barely chart in their first week. Furthermore the Bounce Back record is one of the standout records of the year, and there’s album cuts on here that definitely makes this album an enjoyable listen. Where it ranks in his catalogue I’m not really sure, as truthfully speaking it all blends together and none of them can be considered classics, yet due to his consistency I’d bet that Magnum Opus is coming soon.