Big Sean: Working his way up as a hip-hop mainstay
Dark Sky Paradise teeters on the side of melodramatic
Big Sean has become somewhat of an underdog to his generational peers in hip-hop. After joining the house that Jay Z built over at Roc Nation, Sean is in need of something big to catapult him back into the minds of the rap faithful.
Dark Sky Paradise is definitely one of Sean’s strongest releases to date. However, it is a bit melodramatic. His very public break-up with Naya Rivera seems to have fueled the fury on this one. Its theme of ex girls and next girls is prevalent throughout. “Play No Games” has an early ’90s R&B boy band swag and the Kanye West assisted “All Your Fault” has a back and forth between the two that’s reminiscent of M.O.P.
Big Sean still lies in that comfortable, but awkward, space that’s somewhere between Ludacris and Jay Z – a quirky delivery with comical punch lines that belie the complexity and ego that fills them. It’s in this space that Dark Sky Paradise works best. “Blessings” featuring Drake is great, although it feels like his song featuring Big Sean. Tracks like “Paradise” are where Big Sean nails it. The klutzy bounce is perfect for Sean Don to capitalize on his quirky flow. The Godzilla themed brass and warbling synth hits hard and is something fresh from super producer Mike WiLL Made-It. Although the multiple call outs to his previous effort Finally Famous makes this sound like a leftover at times.
There are other moments that aren’t as well fleshed out. Both Jhené Aiko featured tracks, “Win Some, Lose Some” and “I Know”, attempt to recast the magic of “Beware”, but fall short. Although, Jhené’s soulful whispers and sweet nothings are show stealing.
As Big Sean continues to evolve and find his place in the pantheon he continues to make good music (no pun intended). Hopefully there’ll be more clear skies to inspire him in the future.