Saturday, July 31, 2021

Big Sean lacks depth, meaning

Big Sean’s 14-song album “I Decided” was released Feb. 5, and has already landed atop of Billboard charts. Coming off the success of his last album, “Dark Sky Paradise,” Sean could have easily attempted to recreate the winning formula of mindless fun singles with dense rhyme schemes for fans of “real rap.”

Instead, on “I Decided,” Sean strives for maturity. The result is wishy-washy at best and a bore at its worst. As is the case with most Sean projects, the album hangs on the strength of its lead singles. Foes and exes alike were caught in Sean’s crosshairs on his hit single IDFWY, but here he treads familiar territories on “Moves” and “Bounce Back” to lesser effects.

On “Bounce Back,” Sean addresses his ability to recover from a wrong decision. Still, both singles, despite lacking the electricity of other singles, ultimately resonate louder than other songs because of Sean’s refusal to take himself seriously.

The album is carefully threaded together by a narrative of Sean losing and regaining sight of who and what is important in life. Listeners are taken on a tour of the various problems facing Sean before learning the true meaning of happiness comes from family.

In “Halfway Off the Balcony,” he has the pivotal realization that relationships are what makes life valuable, not the superficial things.

Sean dedicates the album’s last quarter to his mother, as songs “Inspire Me” and “Sacrifices” details the unconditional bond between mother and son.

Unfortunately, the songs fail to connect not because of their determination but because they lack any real substantive reasons to be compelling. I believe the album’s best song is “Bigger Than Me” where Sean features the Flint, Mich. Chozen Choir. Sean has been an avid supporter of those affected by the Flint water crisis and he publicly donated $100,000 to the cause.

The album features several collaborative acts including Jeremiah, Eminem, Jhene Aiko, The Dream, Migos and Starrah. On standout “No Favors,” fellow Detroit native Eminem raffles off his best verse in years while seamlessly namechecking: Ann Coulter, Fergie and Donald Trump.

The fact that Sean, a rapper whose first chart-topping single was all about bottoms, can stand confidently next to a rapper with twenty-years in hip hop says a lot about how far the young rapper has come. Unfortunately, “I Decided” overall does not resonate the same evolution.

Email Taylor Richardson at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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