28 February 2015

REVIEW: Big Sean - Dark Sky Paradise

I'll preface this review by saying that before I heard this album, I felt like Big Sean represented everything I loathed about the current state of Hip-hop, from cadences and flows to overall subject matter. I simply could not understand how legends like Pharrell and Kanye West were hyping this man up during his Finally Famous mixtape days. To me, the talent simply was not there. Sure he has managed to drop chart topping singles and has been a part of several noteworthy collaborations, but I could never co-sign his full projects. To put it bluntly, his shit just put me to sleep, and I was convinced that throughout his entire career he would never drop an album that I would care about. All of those doubts, for the most part, are laid to rest with the release of his third studio album Dark Sky Paradise.

In September we were blessed with the DJ Mustard-produced anthem that very well has the ability to become a timeless staple for the Detroit artist in "I Don't Fuck With You." Club bangers like this are nothing new to Sean, but there was something about this song that caught my attention and made me think Big Sean might be on the verge of a breakthrough. Unfortunately, the singles that followed in "Paradise" and "Blessings" reminded me of why I can't stand this dude. On these songs he reverts back to the turn-up / trap cadences that still continue to flood the airwaves, so I assumed the rest of the album would be more of the same.

It wasn't until a friend of mine, who's overall opinion of Big Sean mirrors my own, convinced me to give Dark Sky Paradise a shot. I trusted his taste in music, plus I have been waiting for Sean to live up to the expectations set by his mentors. Ability wise, Sean hasn't taken any major leaps, but the quality of the music on this album shows that he has been putting in serious work. Sometimes it's about more than just lyricism, and production, or whether a song will live in the club for six months. For me, listenability plays a major role in how I feel about an album. He just has a really good collection of songs here, from "All Your Fault ft. Kanye West," to "Play No Games ft. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $." Jhene Aiko also pops up on two songs which do nothing but help strengthen Dark Sky Paradise to the point where I have no problem putting this album on repeat.

Overall I will say that Big Sean is still not fucking with other juggernauts from the D, but for naysayers who feel like he isn't even worthy of being a rapper should give Dark Sky Paradise a listen. He's still not one of my favorite artists, but I can respectfully say that now he has my attention. Much like Wale's "The Gifted," the work Sean has put into this album is evident, and it's clear he is ready to take that next step musically. I'm just glad to see that, in a game that is currently being led by far superior emcee's, Big Sean is stepping up. Maybe that "Control" verse sparked something in him? Either way, I'm impressed with his growth.

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