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Arts and Culture

Big Sean Turns Dreams into Goals

The Detroit rapper gets closer to the 'Hall of Fame.'

By Gregory Adams 22 Aug 2013 | TheTyee.ca

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The hype behind Big Sean's upcoming Hall of Fame LP was ramped up tenfold last week, but oddly not by a song off the record, nor even by a verse by the Detroit rapper. Instead, all ears were on an axed b-side called "Control," which had current hip-hop golden boy Kendrick Lamar declaring he's the greatest in the game right now, and maybe ever. Sure, that kind of bravado might not seem all that odd, considering such boasts have always been big in hip-hop's history, but Lamar's self-described "destruction mode" finds him bluntly calling out a laundry list of modern-day heavy hitters: J. Cole, Big KRIT, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, Tyler the Creator and Mac Miller.

"I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you," Lamar spits viciously on a track by one of the guys he's verbally assaulting, mind you. What's got lost in the hype, however, is that Big Sean's bars likewise stake their claim on the game, but he stops short on the ego trip with a shred of modesty. For instance, he notes how he "can't stop motherfuckin' movin'" until he leaves a legacy as large as genre greats 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. He knows he's still on the rise, and fittingly, Hall of Fame serves to chronicle his continuing ascent to the top.

Opening cut "Nothing Is Stopping You," which runs on producer Key Wane's mix of relaxed electric piano melodies and skittering hi-hats, has the rapper recalling how he once ran to a Detroit radio station to freestyle for Kanye West, a move that now has Sean rolling deep in the G.O.O.D. Music crew. A twist of fate has the gracious rhymer returning the favour later in the song when approached by another upstart MC ("I can't lie he was alright/But at his age, shit so was I, so I give him my email on the fly"). "First Chain" likewise plays the nostalgia card with Big Sean detailing his days in Detroit slums and putting his mind towards making it in the music scene like his heroes Nas, Jay Z and Kanye West ("Dreams stopped being dreams when I turned 'em into goals"). His reward: gold chains and guest verses from Nas and Kid Cudi.

Big Sean's charm generally comes out of his teddy-bear soft tone, which is both easily approachable and extremely endearing. It's odd, then, when he works outside of his melodious milieu on rough-necked clappers like "10 2 10" and "Mona Lisa," where he ratchets up his flow with high-pitched, lazy drawls. More successful, however, is the reasonably raunchy "MILF," which has him brushing off a little kid, stealing his snacks and lining up some alone time with a single mom. The bass-booming track is also fit with a filthily pumped up performance from Nicki Minaj and a finale from bandz-stacking strip-club aficionado Juicy J.

Bringing the album back to its theme, Sean closes things out with "All Figured Out," a life-contemplating cut that suggests that making the hall of fame isn't so much about material things, but about "being immortalized and remembered for all the right reasons." Having an album with a handful of monster tracks won't hurt his chances, though.

Hall of Fame is released on Tuesday (August 27).  [Tyee]

Read more: Music

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