I Decided by Big Sean – Review
It has been a long nine years since Big Sean was first discovered and signed by Kanye West. Fans have been treated to four studio albums from the Detroit MC and his latest, I Decided, is his best work yet.
Big Sean’s career to this point has not been one of critical and fan acclaim, despite Kanye West cosigning him. His first two albums, Finally Famous and Hall of Fame, although popular amongst fans, never received the critical acclaim Sean may have hoped for or expected.
On Dark Sky Paradise, his first platinum album, Big Sean finally received both the critical and fan acclaim he had strived so hard for since coming into the game. I Decided represents a refinement from the MC and a continuation of his quiet rise to the upper echelon of rappers today.
Before the album’s release, Sean stated that this album was a concept album about the topic of rebirth. As both a concept album and a refinement, the album just works on every level.
After an intro, the album opens with “Lights” and a Jeremih feature. Accompanied only by a keyboard, Big Sean raps about the struggles of growing up in Detroit and the struggles of those in the communities he grew up in. Although thematically similar, the song is a major departure sonically from what fans have come to expect from the artist and sets up what this album will be.
Like most albums from mainstream artists however, the singles drag this album down. “Bounce Back” and “Moves”, although good singles, do not feel like they belong on this album. They are out of place and take away from so many of the strides Big Sean took forward.
Another big disappointment on this album is the song “No Favors”. Big Sean’s verse is a cocky as always, sounds like traditional Sean, and still somehow feels like it belongs. He raps about his grandmother and the fact that he still does not get respect in the rap game. However, the song is brought down by yet another instance of an Eminem guest verse that is subpar at best. When Eminem gets political talking about police shootings and the election, he sounds new and something fans may love. But he inevitably goes back to old, misogynistic Eminem, and ultimately ruins this song.
Those three missteps are still not enough to hold this album back though, thanks in large part to “Jump Out the Window” and “Halfway Off the Balcony”. “Jump Out the Window” clearly speaks about taking chances in life, specifically for people you care about. It is yet another example of a softer voiced Big Sean effortlessly flowing from verse to verse.
Then on “Halfway Off the Balcony”, Big Sean reflects on his life and why he is doing what he does, but ends the song with a look at how he does not talk to his mom as much as he should. His relationship with his mom has been so publicly important to him and for him to be willing to admit on a song that he feels he is not doing enough as a son is huge.
There are other highlights like the split track “Voices In My Head/Stick to the Plan” showing how Big Sean on the same song can go from one very slow, methodical flow, to an upbeat one all on the same track. “Sunday Morning Jetpack”, “Owe Me”, and the Migos-featuring “Sacrifices” are also all tracks that push Sean’s message farther forward.
If a few songs are cut here or there, this album is likely talked about as one of the best rap albums of the last few years. It is Sean’s best album to date, but he is still a few key elements away from making a classic album.
David Arroyo is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.