As evidenced by his 14-track labor of love, I Decided., Big Sean is simply blessed to be here. In his fourth studio album, which was released to the masses Friday (Feb. 3), the G.O.O.D Music signee and Kanye West protégé wears his heart on his sleeve. Instead of letting this vulnerability soften him up, he flips it as a way to remind himself how he has gone from underdog to the top of the rap game (and progressin’). The age-old adage says that “money can’t buy happiness,” and it’s clear that Sean is digging deep into what it means to him to have a true wealth of self. He’s caught the #BlackBoyJoy bug, while still staying true to himself through the infectious rhymes and beats we’ve come to love from him.
The 2015 Dark Sky Paradise follow up is the Detroit native’s most honest work to date, and follows the concept of being grateful for each high and low we experience because these highs and lows toughen us up, which caters to the dream chaser demo that Sean may be trying to reach. Several interludes and outros (“Intro,” “Owe Me”) throughout the LP star an older version of Sean Don, who is frequently overheard questioning his existence, wondering where exactly he stopped living life to the fullest. However, through songs like the thumping “Bounce Back”, produced by Metro Boomin, and the retrospective “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” the MC (as a young gun) it’s evident that he’s doing just fine despite life throwing a few L’s his way.
What’s also clear is that Sean is forever grateful for his day-ones. With several shoutouts to his mother Myra, his family, his city and his girl—he lovingly duets with Jhene Aiko on “Same Time Pt. 1”—he gives props where props are due. A stand-out track encapsulating the notion of Sean’s support system is the album’s closer, “Bigger Than Me.” Only overshadowed by the triumphant background stylings of The Flint Chozen Choir, the song’s power lies in its lyrics, where Sean divulges that the champagne life he leads pales in comparison to the fulfillment of being supported in doing what he loves. A voicemail between him and his mother towards the end of the song explains Sean’s belief that he was given a second chance at living, and how these feelings have only made him “hungry” for his next move.
The mysterious “Halfway Off The Balcony” and the subtly trappy, Migos-assisted “Sacrifices” also highlight Sean’s voracious appetite for success. “I cut the f**k sh** drama out my energy/Focused on the inner me, never on the enemy,” he spits in the latter. “And I done sacrificed my own time/I done sacrificed my own mind…”
This album also allowed Sean to flex his lyrical muscles, something he’s been continuing to excel at since his first album, Finally Famous. This finesse comes out in songs like the turbulently tempoed “Voices In My Head / Stick To The Plan” and the magnetic “No Favors,” where he holds his own alongside indisputable rap titan Eminem, who gets politically brazy in his verse (“I’m anti, can’t no government handle a commando/ Your man don’t want it, Trump’s a b**ch/ I’ll make his whole brand go under”).
— Sean Don (@BigSean) February 3, 2017
Not only does Sean provide the listener with conceptual depth throughout the album, he’s showing you his talent as a rapper is nothing to f**k with. He’s more or less a quiet force of nature in the game; to him, musicianship is just as important as his abilities in the booth. In a time where rappers seem to get more praise for playing hypeman rather than the actual depth they provide, it’s refreshing to listen to an album that not only brings lyrical heat, but reaches the listener by showing a more human side of these larger than life characters.
I Decided. spotlights Big Sean’s growth not only as a musician, but as a person. Despite being able to pop bottles and sporting Roc-A-Fella chains from the Jigga Man on social media, he’s still remembering his roots and the ones who have shown him love and support since he began his come-up. You can have all the wealth known to man, but if you don’t have something or someone that really makes your spirit soar, is it really worth it? Big Sean’s hypothesis is that wealth of the soul is far more important, and this album is his thesis into proving that he is all-around thankful for the team that got him here. His blessings are as big as the chains he flaunts. As the first full song from the album (“Lights”) goes, he’s still the same Sean Anderson “from that city four hours east of Southside,” and we wouldn’t have it any other way.