You know, it’s been a while. I hadn’t been this excited for a project in quite a while. While 2016 was easily one of the best years for music in nearly a decade, 2017 is starting off as a strong contender. To kick things off, we’re taking a look at Big Sean’s anticipated release: I Decided. Essentially a follow up to his very strong Dark Sky Paradise, we’re getting to see Big Sean in a less introspective light, and we’re getting to see him step into his own as a rapper. While the album is definitely a lot less experimental than his previous entry, I Decided is a great piece in its own right.
To start, we’ll get the negative out of the way. I Decided takes a lot less risks than I felt that Dark Sky Paradise did. To be honest, Dark Sky Paradise felt a lot more like an album that could be worn in the fashion world. As I listened to it, the tunes were so visceral it almost felt like I was standing on the runway. It was a very fashionable piece that ultimately went deep inside Sean’s psyche, and helped to put him on the map. While I Decided maintains some similar tones, I feel as though this is more Sean playing harder at the “top of the game” title that is so highly vaunted.
Recent relationship rumors between him and Jhene Aiko come to a head, as we see yet another 2088 collaboration on this piece. While this is arguably one of the weaker songs on the album, it still feels like it has it’s place among the track listing. Arguably noticeably missing are any Kanye features or any of the other G.O.O.D music artists, as typically happened on previous records, and I do feel as though it suffered a bit for it. Instead, we get features like Eminem that don’t quite match up/ While Sean and Em have done work in the past on songs like Detroit vs. Everybody, here it just seems that Eminem’s verse is cobbled together. It feels disjointed, and oddly out of place in the context of the song. While No Favors (the track with Em) is ultimately a good track, it definitely loses a few points in the overall look.
To the good: the album feels a lot more balanced. I disagree when people say that this is Sean’s best work, but it’s definitely up there. Listening through, songs like Light and Bigger Than Me are phenomenal. They’re introspective, strong, and feature excellent bars from Sean throughout. Meaty features from Jeremih and the beautiful choir in the background truly help to elevate both of these tracks to the next level. Sacrifices featuring the Migos is another noteworthy track on the album. Quavo and Takeoff deliver well timed and well flowed verses, and help to bring this track to the forefront of awesome.
So, while I definitely don’t think that this is the “best” Big Sean album, it’s definitely a strong contender. Sean comes through on this album feeling a lot more like himself and less like a rip of other artists. In his own right, he’s able to spit and truly deliver fantastic flows, and I’m happy to see him put his lyrical prowess at the forefront. Changes in production help to create a different sound, but one that stays ultimately consistent with Sean’s recent MO. While most features are lackluster, there are some stand outs that deliver to the overall product in a big way. If you’re a fan of Big Sean, or looking for a good jumping in point to his catalog, this would be it.