Big Sean – I Decided Review
WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
Now let’s see here, Big Sean. 3 time Grammy nominee, a platinum album, my wife… I mean Jhené Aiko for a better half and one of Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella chains around his neck these days. Pretty creditable!! Yet still Sean gets very little props or recognition as one of the great rappers of our time. We often find ourselves asking… is his ability to rap comparable to some of the best in the game? And is he capable of producing an album that is genuinely considered a great body of work? Dark Sky Paradise (his last album) was a very good but not great effort. That being said here’s how I think his fourth album ‘I Decided’ shapes up.
‘I Decided’ is Big Sean’s attempt at a Concept album. In the various skits dotted between the songs he uses the notion of an older version of himself advising his current self throughout the album. Older Sean guides the listener, through current Sean’s journey of realising ones self-worth in ‘Light‘, ‘Bounce Back‘ and ‘No Favours‘ and love in tracks such as ‘Jump Out The Window‘, ‘Same time Pt 1‘ and ‘Owe Me‘. Tracks 9 through 11, ‘Halfway Off The Balcony‘, ‘Voices In My Head / Stick To The Plan‘ and ‘Sunday Morning Jet Pack‘, denote the need for continuity and remaining hopeful through tough times. Side note: Anybody who saw his recent interview on The Breakfast Club will have seen that Sean admitted to having suicidal thoughts at some point – a very real suggestion if his tribulations could be suggested through these tracks. Finally, ‘Inspire Me‘ ‘Sacrifices‘ and ‘Bigger Than Me‘ are three uplifting songs to round off the album – track 12 is an ode to his mother complimented by a segment at the end of ‘Bigger Than Me’ where he finally calls his mother back to have a conversation with her. I know of no one in the Hip-Hop world who praises his mother like Sean does besides… oh… maybe Kanye West? Like master, like mentor.
Sean has an impressive list of features on ‘I Decided’, ranging from Jeremih and The Dream who provide excellent backing vocals to his Twenty88 partner in crime, my wif… sorry Jhené. Also the current golden boys of the rap game Migos feature, sprinkling some of their trap rap flavour on the thought provoking ‘Sacrifices’ track. Props to Big Sean for getting the Atlanta trio to speak on a subject other than whipping cocaine in the bando, although Quavo did manage to squeeze a little line in. But the most high profile and most anticipated feature of them all was fellow Detroit native Eminem on the ‘No Favours’ track. Needless to say Em’s contribution far outshone everyone else’s as he rolled back the years to deliver a classic, controversial, two and a half minute long verse which, in true Slim Shady fashion, took aim at Fergie, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump to name a few. In addition, Sean chose to stick to the winning formula of he and his producer Amaire Johnson who contributes on 11 out of the 14 tracks. FUN FACT: Johnson was the man behind the keys for ‘One man can change the world’… the song Sean won his Grammy for!
One of Big Sean’s most well documented attributes is the vulnerability and emotive power he demonstrates in his lyrics. The man has no problem addressing his family friends and spouses (past or present) in a very raw and unprecedented way. It makes for a genuine and relatable song, which is why ‘Jump Out The Window’ is my favourite song on the album. He uses his full arsenal of singing, rapping and changes of speed over a soothing, melodic instrumental provided by Key Wayne and some Jeremih backing vocals to compliment.
Big Sean has come a long way from Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay and for me his constant endeavour to push his boundaries and bolster his repertoire as an artist has led me to award him an 8.4 for ‘I Decided’. When I first listened to this album my first reaction was that its’ general sound and feel is very similar to Dark Sky Paradise. Upon closer inspection I can conclude that it is better. However, I still feel as though Sean is maybe an album or two away from producing a classic or a really great album. But he is certainly going about it the right way and anyone’s failure to acknowledge his ability at this point is just showing sheer signs of ignorance. The boy is good!!