Big Sean was on the Angie Martinez show on Friday with a new chain around his neck. Gifted to him by Jay Z, the diamond encrusted piece was a throwback to the Brooklyn rapper's legendary Roc-A-Fella Records days, to a student of the game like Sean, it would be difficult to find a higher honour — the last time this happened Jay was adorning the neck of J. Cole on his birthday at Madison Square Garden.
Sean is currently signed to Jay's Roc Nation management, and his fourth studio album ‘I Decided.’ is out on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music and Def Jam. Big Sean has a formidable list of co-signers, although interestingly he's chosen to handle the majority of this one himself, aside from cherry-picked contributions from Migos, Jeremih, The-Dream, girlfriend Jhené Aiko and an already infamous verse from fellow Detroit rapper Eminem on 'No Favours'.
Based around the concept of reincarnation, ‘I Decided.’ may well be Sean’s most accomplished album to date, following him through four acts as he lives his life over again with the goal of doing everything right. The album demonstrates Sean's improvement as an artist, but isn't quite as brave as it could be.
Musically, ‘I Decided.’ is Sean’s most succinct project to date, full of spooky atmospheric synths and trap-infused drum tracks courtesy of a cast of beatmakers that include Metro Boomin, DJ Mustard, DJ Dahi, Key Wane and Amaire Johnson. Big Sean’s performances across the album are also a step up; on a particular highlight, 'Voices In My Head/ Stick To The Plan' Sean plays various aspects of his conscience, never spitting a bar out of place as the beat shifts erratically. Technically it’s hard to fault Big Sean, particularly now, but it’s also hard to fully invest.
While it's undoubtedly a solid addition to Sean's catalogue, at the end of 'I Decided.' it's the flows and instrumentals that are left with the listener, having upstaged what Sean is actually trying to say. Although existing fans won't be disappointed, it feels frustratingly short of transcending to garner any new ones.
Words: Jack Dolan
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