Getting My Hopes Way Up | Big Sean announces album release
G.O.O.D. Music vet Big Sean announced last week that he will be releasing his third major label album in less than a month. The Detroit MC is slated to drop Dark Sky Paradise on February 24, and needless to say, it’s a B.I.G. moment for him, pun intended. Sean Don’s last LP, Hall of Fame, showcased an array of the rapper’s talents on the mic, but in comparison to his first album, Finally Famous, it was a let down in the sense that it lacked depth and variety, both lyrically and sonically. Standout tracks like “Nothing is Stopping You,” “Fire,” and “World Ablaze” all capitalized on Sean’s introspective side, but as a cohesive unit the album failed to impress because I didn’t witness any noticeable improvement upon anything he had done to that point. Nevertheless, Sean has been grinding since Hall of Fame‘s release in August 2013, and the time for his third LP is quickly approaching.
While Sean didn’t release a full project in 2014, it’s been quite evident as to what he’s been up to over the course of the past twelve months. From called off engagements, to a new chick by his side, to a growing influence with adidas, and not to mention a slew of bangers, B.I.G. has firmly cemented himself in the murmurings of hip-hop’s talking heads, and thus pop culture in general. He kicked this past year off with a stream of consciousness freestyle titled “1st Quarter” in which he rapped over a Key Wane and Travi$ Scott produced track that spanned nearly six minutes. At the time of the song’s release it was looked at as a commendable effort by the Detroit MC, but in hindsight, “1st Quarter” was merely a clip of a bigger picture that Sean was painting behind the scenes.
After dropping his “1st Quarter” freestyle, Sean went back underground momentarily until September of 2014 when he simultaneously released his hit anthem “IDFWU ft. E-40,” a Mike Will juxtaposition titled “Paradise,” an up-tempo Chicagoan jam duly titled “Jit/Juke,” and another freestyle named “4th Quarter” to cap off the the latter half of the year. “IDFWU” was the obvious trophy track out of the quartet, as it married a classic west coast beat with an infectious soul sample from 70s artist D.J. Rogers. Though the E-40 assisted track stole much of the spotlight after Sean’s release, a clearer image finally began to surface regarding the direction in which the Detroit rhyme spitter was going for his third album.
All four records share a common thread, and upon listening, it’s distinctly clear that Sean chose to depict a much darker musical environment in comparison to that of Hall of Fame. The song “Paradise” rivals “Mula” as the hardest hitting track in the B.I.G. catalog, with Mike Will coming through with a series of sinister horns and hi-hats. Whether you’re streaming the track through your car stereo or those shitty earbuds you’ve been using since you copped that iPhone 3, the song bangs, and the flourishing G.O.O.D. MC refuses to take a backseat on the lyrical side of the spectrum. “4th Quarter,” the sibling of the track that kicked off Sean’s 2014, is a lesson in flowetry, with Sean absolutely murdering a succession of beats, and proving that he wasn’t kidding when he said “I put six years in the flow, okay, no wonder it got mastered.”
Riding the success of his September releases, all was quiet on the Sean Don front until he began making media rounds in December and January. He hinted that an album title and release date were coming, but it wasn’t until this past week that the clouds subsided and he announced that his third major label release would be titled Dark Sky Paradise. According the Sean, the entire album was recorded in his new home studio, and because of that, he feels as though it is a much more cohesive project. Along with the album title and release date, Sean decided to build up the album’s crescendo by releasing a star-studded track titled “Blessings.”
“Blessings” features the 6 God Drake, along with a short guest appearance at the song’s end from G.O.O.D. Music head honcho Kanye West. Even after just one listen, it’s obvious why “Blessings,” produced by frequent OVO collaborator Boi-1-da, was chosen to be dropped relatively close to the album’s release date. The song is the perfect track to spark up interest with Sean’s fan base, especially considering its guest appearances. While the song documents a myriad of things the three hip-hop heavyweights are forever grateful for, it’s the beat that meshes extremely well with the thematic vibe of the rest of the album’s pre-released tracks. That “vibe” of the track is set into motion immediately, with Sean audibly blowing out the lights before a haunting synth drops and continues to loop throughout the rest of the track. Paired with a dope sequence of 808s and a compulsive hook from Drizzy, and the track has all the makings of a hit. And while it’s a pre-conceived notion that “Blessings” will stand as one of Dark Sky Paradise‘s major smashes, the rest of the track list leaves little to be desired:
1. “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)”
2. “Blessings” (feat. Drake)
3. “All Your Fault” (feat. Kanye West)
4. “I Don’t F**k With You” (feat. E-40)
5. “Play No Games” (feat. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign)
6. “Paradise (Extended)”
7. “Win Some, Lose Some”
8. “Stay Down”
9. “I Know” (feat. Jhené Aiko)
10. “Deep” (feat. Lil Wayne)
11. “One Man Can Change the World” (feat. Kanye West & John Legend)
DELUXE VERSION BONUS TRACKS
13. “Deserve It” (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)
14. “Research” (feat. Ariana Grande)
15. “Platinum and Wood”
Whoa… With not one, but two features from Yeezy, the aforementioned Drizzy feature, and cuts from OVO’s young crooner PARTYNEXTDOOR, John Legend, Weezy, and boo Ariana Grande, you’ve got a dream team kind of guest list. Oh, and did I mention the production team is gloat worthy as well? La Flame produced “All Your Fault,” and we already know what Mike Will’s coming with on “Paradise”… But an extended version? Do we really have to wait twenty more days? It’s utterly inane to anoint an album as a success prior to its release, but its difficult to not come to conclusions about Sean’s third LP based on what we have to go off of at this point in time. Not only has he already released a number of critically acclaimed joints that are slated to make the album cut, but over the course of the past year and a half, it’s obvious that Sean has been practicing his craft, all the while crafting a unified album. All things being considered, it’s safe to say that Big Sean is primed to drop his most impressive project to date. Make sure to check back once he finally drops Dark Sky Paradise, as I’ll be sure to give you an honest and detailed review of it.