Some say he’s angry. Others chalk it up to a new level of focus. Either way, Big Sean sounds like he’s never sounded before on his third LP Dark Sky Paradise; an album that will become the the first #1 album of the Detroit native’s career. It’s forced his detractors to stop calling for “mixtape Big Sean” because, well, frankly, this Big Sean is better, more refined, and is seeing things a lot clearer. On Finally Famous, he aimed for radio using the majority of his tracklist, and on Hall Of Fame, he tried to impact radio without really making an obvious attempt, but missed his mark. On Dark Sky Paradise, there’s a very clear attempt by Big Sean to become the bad guy that everybody likes, and he’s using a rather simple formula: rap his ass off and shame his enemies. Still, everything didn’t come as easily as it sounds, and we got a unique look into his creative process when we talked to the blessed rapper.
Did you hear the noise while you were making this album? Critics downplayed Hall Of Fame, sometimes harshly. That had to weigh on you while you made Dark Sky.
This is definitely one of the first albums where I didn’t really listen to anyone else. I wanted to change the direction, and do what I wanted to do follow my heart, that was the mindset the whole time. I built a studio in my house and recorded the whole album there. It was some of the best time I had recording. I’m thankful that I listened to myself, and that I stuck with that vision because it wasn’t easy. In doing so I was able to record at my convenience and live out the music. It made all the difference.
This was your most unique roll-out. Definitely more concise, a lot quicker. Usually we get a single, wait a few months then a video, then the artwork. I felt we kind of got everything at once. Was there any point during the process where you felt rushed or that you were doing things to soon?
Nah. If anything I would have done it even quicker. Nowadays I feel it’s easier to give people the music instantly instead of a long drawn out roll out. I actually felt my roll-out was a little too long. I feel good about it. I believe the people can see I put my heart into it. Every song means something different, had a different type of attention. You can get caught up, working on a project forever trying to make it better. I felt comfortable where, I was ready for the people to have this one and be ready for the next one.
Focusing on the music and putting your privacy out there. There were songs on Hall Of Fame that dug deep on the depths of your personal life like “Toyota Music”, like “Sierra Leone”, but on Dark Sky Paradise I feel like you take it to another level and get more specific including your relationships with your father, grandmother, past girlfriends. When artists open up the media tends to make jokes of their vulnerability (i.e. Drake, J. Cole). Do you ever worry about people making light of serious situations?
I just accepted the responsibility of keeping it real. I put my life out there to entertain and inspire. My listeners are the people who got love for me and who need it. I feel fortunate to and glad to be in that position. I’ve come a long way from what I grew up in. I appreciate this, I don’t take it for granted, I give a 110% all the time and never complain about anything.
I’ve read other writers say they struggle to “take you seriously.” Then when I hear some of the verses on this album, like “All Your Fault”, “Paradise”, or “Deep” I feel like you channeled that criticism into your lyricism to prove them wrong. Is that a criticism you’re aware of when you record?
People are always gonna talk shit, Always. You can’t even focus on that. I know how talented I am and the potential I have as an artist and as a rapper. I wanted to make sure I got that across but I wanted to do it organically. People can talk shit and say whatever, I just stay focused on what’s at hand, what I have to do and stay hungry. I appreciate you listening to these verses.
On a lighter note, people like to compare rappers and their relationships as fuel behind the album. For example, Amber Rose was the inspiration for Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, whereas Yeezus was made when he was with Kim, so some say Amber may have been the better girlfriend. Where you’re concerned Hall of Fame Was created when you were with Naya Rivera, whereas Dark Sky Paradise was made while you were with Ariana Grande. If Dark Sky Paradise is the better album, is there anything to that?
Yup [laughs]. But you already answered that so… pretty much [laughs].
I noticed that you’re not doing a Detroit date on this J. Cole tour, is that because your going to end up headlining your own arena tour?
Yeah I’m doing a special show In Detroit. I do it every year with the city. Its something intimate. Thats why I didn’t do it for the Cole tour. I got something special planned for my city, always.
The last thing I want to ask. With everything going on in the Hip-Hop Industry, Everyone is pushing at innovation. People are looking at projects such as 808’s & Heartbreak and So Far Gone as turning points in hip hop. Where somebody went somewhere no one has gone before, and in turn, it helps to define a new generation. With these first 3 albums you’ve refined your craft and have become an elite artist, but with this next LP you have coming up do you feel the pressure to do something no one else has done, or innovate in a way no one has innovated?
For this next album I don’t have any ideas going in, I feel like innovation and ideas naturally come and aren’t planned for. Im going to do what comes natural. Stick to my guns and follow my heart. I always want to change the game, always want to push the envelope. Develop new rhyme schemes, make up words and have fun with it. Thats what its a all about. For this next album I’m going into it with that same idea, same hunger, same focus and well see what happens.