Haven't featured an album in while! I popped Big Sean's latest album into my car before a gig a couple weeks back and unfortunately due to this "second-release-syndrome" trend around at the moment I didn't set expectations high. This is Sean's second major label release... and major label releases these days are the equivalent of climbing everest in the rap game. Artists now more than ever have to consider strict sample clearing, pressures of a breakthrough lead single, and impossible deadlines. Not to mention record labels squeezing every creative ounce out of tracks to conform into a oh-so-fatiging pop sound. Ironically we blame that on hiphop making major routes into the pop world... isn't that we have wanted all along? More people appreciating rap music?
Big Sean released a mixtape called DETROIT this year. It has been downloaded close to 2 MILLION times. There aren't that many artists in ANY other genre that have sold their body of work 2 million times this year.
It is rare to see a rapper with mixtape numbers like that featuring on pop songs (Jesse J, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kelly Rowland etc). So not only has he established himself through Kanye and G.O.O.D Music but he's making bank in the pop game. Don't hate, he's just a great businessman!
Hall of Fame reminds me of Common's last album "The Dreamer, The Believer"... he keeps things pretty simple enlisting his in-house producers Key Wane and No I.D. for most of the instrumentals. Things just feel fluid, effortless, and calculated. It has a balance of hiphop, PBRnB (look that up..), and that humour/street/rap he's become famous for. No major label intimidation... he's just doing his thing alongside some great songwriters- Mike Posner, Elijah Blake, Melanie Fiona, Nicole Lequerica... and James Fauntleroy. My oh my what a career that man is going to have. After co-writing Justin Timberlake's "20-20 Experience", James Fauntleroy is back, this time lending Big Sean vocals for 6 or 7 tracks. Everytime his voice features he lifts songs from a simple hiphop track to this adult-contemporary feel that was plastered all over Common's "The Dreamer, The Believer". I honestly believe Fauntleroy carries this album all the way through until the final track. A credit to Sean to allowing space and having a selfless creative process, to canvas such a great album.
Hopefully this urges you to check Hall of Fame out, and make your own judgement. It is a great album, and makes me very happy to know that popular hiphop hasn't completely lost its marbles.
Nothing Is Stopping You (prod. by Key Wane)
Sierra Leone (prod. by No I.D. and James Poyser)
World Ablaze (ft. James Fauntleroy) (prod. by No I.D. and Key Wane)
First Chain (feat. Kid Cudi & Nas) (prod. by No I.D. and Key Wane)
It's Time (feat. Jeezy & Payroll) (prod. by Key Wane)
Guap (prod. by Key Wane and Young Chop)