“This project sounded like Sean got a bunch of his boys to hang out with him in studio, they were all vibing and this is what they cooked up.”
A year ago Big Sean released his debut “Finally Famous: The Album”, and since then he’s navigated his way around the industry under the watchful eye of his mentor Kanye West. Sean was recently featured on the G.O.O.D. Music compilation album; with hits like “Mercy” and “Clique” bringing that heat. With his sophomore album in the works, the Midwest rapper released a project so flawless that this cut could easily be mistaken for an official album. Even the anticipation that led to Sean’s “Detroit” release was surpassed, proving there really is something special about this kid.
The first track on this tape “Higher” may be one of the hottest joints on this mixtape. This keY Wane production sets a laid-back tone as Sean recounts memories of his come-up as he makes references to the circles he now moves in. “Tomorrow never seemed so close, and life ain’t what it seem no more. Till I was standing next to Puff and Hov, off the French coast, a million dollars never seemed so broke.” His simplistic wordplay and subtle innuendos will get your attention.
The “24 Karats of Gold” featuring J. Cole beat is on some melodic tip that it’ll captivate you from the jump. Sean raps and sings over this oh so soulful beat, although I wish he’d chill on the vocals. What he does flawlessly though is rap about real life as he flips his story-telling between chasing his dreams and things he has no control over. With lines like “with the fam that reminded me what I’m alive for, and at the same time remind me what I’d die for. A world where you wouldn’t need sleep, that way we could catch up instead of chase dreams,” he proves his substance as a rapper. I ain’t mad at Cole’s verse either although I wish he’d go harder. Still, his raps are smooth, and this collaboration is one that would climb mainstream charts.
Common depicts Sean’s hometown Detroit in the third track; over a piano interlude. He talks about recordings with J. Dilla as he sets adrift on memories bliss. Interludes like this one give the tape a personal touch; leaving you feeling even more connected to the artist sharing his experience. Leading straight into the next track “How It Feel”, you can’t help but spot traces of a Barry White-inspired production. And Sean’s flow is icy cool as he raps about sex and money like he’s an expert in that field. His charismatic lyricism is flawless as he asks what it’s like to be around someone as incredible as he is.
“Woke Up” featuring Say It Ain’t Tone, Early Mac, Mike Posner and James Fauntleroy is a banger destined for mainstream success; like I want to hear this track pop off in the club so I can jump on a couch or something. There’s a momentum Sean achieves with this track, and that’s the fact that you buy into the story that he’s living his dreams because he raps so effortlessly about it. Mike Posner is an artist to watch out for though. His smooth deliverance of the bridge is like butter melting on toast.
Featuring Juicy J and King Chip, “Experimental” will grow on you. This is that roll-up and roll-out kind of a track that will have you unwillingly doing the steady head-bump. The King Chip hook is catchy and dope on too many levels. Sean raps “Rollin’ weed while I’m sexing, rollin’ weed while I drive. Rollin’ weed while I’m rolling weed; getting high when I’m high,” so you know what it is. This track’s so ill even Juicy J couldn’t ruin it with his monotonous flow.
“Mula” featuring French Montana is THAT jam on “Detroit”. The repetitive hook is what makes this track so magnificent. Yeah I know that’s a big word to attach to a song but this one really is. Unfortunately if you’re looking for lyrical content you’re going to have to press “skip”, because it’s only intention is to implore ratchet behaviour. That is all.
A Story By Jeezy is the second of the interludes, as the rapper reminisces on his first visit “to the D”, and how he and like 300 dudes hit the club then a strip club.
“100” is something special in terms of the lyrical content. Featuring a higher-grade calibre of rappers; Royce Da 5’9, Kendrick Lamar and James Fauntleroy, it’s a little surprising that this Don Cannon-produced beat is so chilled. Flow and substance rhymes from all the rappers featured are solid. Sean’s opening rap “As I look up to the sky, thought about a 100 things to do before I die, wondering if I could live it all in one life, cause it could all end in one night” puts real life into perspective. Chris Brown joins Sean on “Sellin’ Dreams”, and the two embark on a beautiful story-telling adventure. There’s a uniquely different pace between the verses and the chorus, but in the end the one compliments the other. The transition from this track into “I’m Gonna Be” featuring Jhene Aiko is a product of perfect track-listing. Aiko is another special wonder of the music world. Her lyrical depth and husky tone is hypnotising.
Lex Luger brings his A-Game on the beat of “FFOE” as Sean attempts to make a club banger. The hook rings off with “I got the best drinks, good tree and bad b*tches” before Sean starts spitting like they played the instrumental through his headphones and he just started rapping. Dude went in on this beat and his flow was turnt up. Tracks like this one remind you why he’s signed to G.O.O.D. Music, we just hope that the label will let him prosper on his sophomore album.
Another thing, when you drop a mixtape project of this high a standard – exceeding all expectations, the pressure is on for that album release. But let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Tyga collaborates with Sean on “Do What I Gotta Do”. Mark my words when I say this, but these two rappers have one thing in common; they’re both underdogs in the game, and to be watched closely in this rap game.
I don’t like this transition but it leads straight into the third and final interlude by Snoop Lion, where the East-Side rapper talks about his life in the industry. The common theme in all three interludes was the flashbacks of the past with clear depictions of the present. The next track “RWT” is trap music in its entirety. Probably the most ignorant track on this tape, but what would this tape be without it though. Sean fierily switches up the tempo as he flows the f*ck out of this track. “One time for my hood ‘til I go in the ground, I’m throwin’ it up cause they holdin’ me down. I’m perverted as f*ck, got a pole in the house, got your girl and your girl and they ho*in’ it out. But you standin’ outside cause no ho*s is allowed, if you work like I work, you would throw in the towel. Once you get in this life, man, there’s no comin’ out, and haters look at me like snow in the south”. Now breathe Sean.
Throughout this mixtape Sean makes constant reference to how real he is, but his best deliverance of this is on “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, where you can’t help but admire the kid for not changing now that he’s “Finally Famous”. He turns his charm on as he discusses the space he finds himself in; a point of no return.
Rounding off what I sonically acknowledge as an unofficial album release and not a mixtape, the Bonus track Part 1 “Life Goes On” featuring Wale is the perfect way to end off the 61 minutes spent in the company of Big Sean and his homies. This Carpenters’ sample of “Rainy Days And Mondays” is everything a seamless soulful production embodies. Even if you didn’t listen to the raps the first time round, this beat has the capacity to teleport you to a different space. By the time you pick up on what Sean’s got to say it will grow on you even more. And the “poetic genius” that is Wale doesn’t hold back on the eloquence raps either. Then Part 2 “All I Know” kicks in and the track slowly starts losing its momentum. By the time Wiz Khalifa starts rapping you’ll be wishing this tape ended off with an extended version of “Life Goes On”. That’s if you haven’t stopped the tape already.
Overall, this project sounded like Sean got a bunch of his boys to hang out with him in studio, they were all vibing and this is what they cooked up. You can hear his vision was precise and clear, and that he had a plan with this mixtape. From the immaculate track-listing to his acute beat selections, his collaborations show that this was not about a name featured on the production and feature credits but that is was about the energy between artists.
Sean took his time and crafted a firm contender for the Top 3 Mixtapes in 2012. Safe to say the pressure is officially on for his yet-untitled sophomore release scheduled to drop by the end of the year.
Written by: Myrna Burgess (@MsTaboo)