By now, you have heard Big Sean’s name in some way, shape or form. The 26-year-old rapper hailing from Detroit, Michigan is known to excel on radio-friendly songs such as “I Don’t Fuck With You,” “Dance (A$$),” “Beware,” and more while providing electrifying features and verses on tracks such as Drake’s “All Me,” “Nothing Is Stopping You,” “Burn” and plenty others. Big Sean most notably stepped into the spotlight over the past year after striking a relationship with pop sensation Ariana Grande after his engagement-gone-wrong with actress Naya Rivera. However, Sean Michael Anderson is one to turn bad situations into positive outcomes, and his latest album, Dark Sky Paradise, reflects that.
This may be Big Sean’s most personal album to date, with subjects such as past relationships, family woes, and overcoming dark times being the topics of discussion. Sean channels those issues onto almost every track throughout the album, which could be both good and bad. Good in a sense that it’s great to hear Sean open up and shed some light on his inner-thoughts, yet bad in a way that it tends to get repetitive at times throughout the project. However, I can’t blame the guy for wanting to get a lot off of his chest.
The first half of Dark Sky Paradise feels damn-near flawless with Big Sean providing hit after hit. The track sequencing couldn’t be any better, which is a detail that I feel a lot of artists tend to overlook with albums nowadays. The album opens with “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” produced by Boi-1da, which gives the audience a taste of what’s to expect from the rest of the album, and you can feel the strong emotion in Sean’s voice.
We’re then introduced to the latest single, “Blessings,” featuring Drake. While the two spit verses at the highest of their abilities, I feel like the hook was not suited for Drake. His singing is reminiscent of Rae Sremmurd’s catchy hooks (“No Type,” “Lit Like Bic”) which isn’t necessarily bad, but it does get annoying pretty fast.
After “Blessings,” we’re introduced to probably the best song on this album which is “All Your Fault” featuring Kanye West and Travi$ Scott’s glorious “Straight Up!” ad-lib. Kanye provides one hell of a verse (“Young Walt Disney, I’ma tell you truthfully / If you leave me then you gon’ end up with a Goofy / I imagine that’s what Chris told Karrueche”) and his atmospheric-yet-dark chorus is entirely too catchy. Big Sean and Kanye also go back and forth on the third verse which adds for a great touch. The track leads into the DJ Mustard-produced “I Don’t Fuck With You,” which is the most commercial-sounding song on this album. However, it doesn’t feel out of place at all. As stated before, the sequencing of this album is great and happens to make this track sound fresher than ever.
Another potential radio hit on this album is the Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign-featured “Play No Games.” Producers Key Wane and Jay John Henry make great use of Guy’s 1988 hit, “Piece of My Love,” which is sampled throughout the track. Big Sean and his label would be crazy to not make this track a single.
We’re then led into “Paradise” produced by Mike WiLL Made-It. This track was already featured on Mike WiLL’s Ransom mixtape, but now we get an extended version for Dark Sky Paradise. Mike WiLL’s electrifying production has Big Sean spitting double-time which makes for an exciting verse. If that verse doesn’t make you excited, then I don’t know what will.
The second half of Dark Sky Paradise is where the album begins to slow down. While the first six tracks on this LP will have you turnt up wherever you’re at, the rest of the songs will most likely have you rethinking some life decisions. I must say, “Win Some, Lose Some” featuring Jhené Aiko is another one of those stand out tracks on here. It reflects things that we have all been through in life, and the addition of Big Sean’s father at the end of the track is a nice addition, especially considering his parents are a huge part of the album’s subject matter.
The album ends on a strong note with “One Man Can Change the World” featuring Kanye West and John Legend. This track is definitely going to inspire fans and motivate those going through hard times. Between this track and “Outro,” I imagine Dark Sky Paradise as Big Sean’s highly anticipated motion-picture. “One Man…” is the last scene of the movie where the good guy comes out on top, and “Outro” is the feel-good track that plays through the end credits. These two tracks make for a great one-two punch.
In conclusion, Dark Sky Paradise is definitely Big Sean’s best album to date. Previous projects such as Finally Famous: The Album and Hall of Fame don’t sound as cohesive or balanced as DSP, however, I feel as though Sean has yet to reach his full potential. He is definitely getting there, but Dark Sky Paradise isn’t going to propel Sean into the upper echelon of rap just yet. Despite all odds, Big Sean is on the right path to success, and Dark Sky Paradise is only the beginning of his journey to the top.
Favorite Tracks: “All Your Fault,” “Paradise (Extended),” “Play No Games,” “One Man Can Change The World”
Least Favorite Tracks: “I Know,” “Deep”
Big Sean's latest album, Dark Sky Paradise provides for a good mix of introspective tracks and party-going records, which all fans of Sean should appreciate. This project is only the beginning of what's to come for the Detroit MC.