Album Review: Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise

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(New) Music Makes Me Lose Control
-Album Reviews for Inquiring Minds-
Artist- Big Sean
Album- Dark Sky Paradise
Ten-Second Bio-
Quick prequel: last year was projected to be huge for rap, but amounted to nothing more than a few singles and a constant rumor mill. Kanye West’s new album had been heard by Seth Rogen, freestyled live in a limo mind you, Kendrick Lamar’s single “I” was named the NBA’s theme song for the 2014-2015 season, but in the end, the only big name artist to release a rap album in 2014 was J. Cole, and that was in December. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated Run the Jewels II, and Piñata for their consistency and underground sound, but 2014 lacked the substance of what I like to call a “phat jam” from the rap department, the kind of song that the neighbors across the street can sing along with. With Drake’s apparent flipping of the bird to Birdman last week, it is thought that his release of his mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” was used to fulfill his current record contract thus allowing him to represent himself, the dominoes have begun to fall. While Big Sean isn’t the biggest name in the industry, I’m a fan, and this album release should set the stage for Frank Ocean, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Chance the Rapper to drop their much anticipated albums.
Now to the album at hand: Big Sean, as he is apt to remind you, is a Detroit mc. He is part of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label which hosts a stable of big name acts, i.e. Pusha T, Mos Def, John Legend, Q-Tip (Tribe Called Quest) and previously Common and Kid Cudi. Dark Sky Paradise is Sean’s third album, and in essence the tipping point for his career, as he was overshadowed by Kendrick Lamar in his own album, Hall of Fame, which lacked the “swag” that Finally Famous, his debut album oozed.

What Can My Ears Expect? –Guest verses are hot and heavy on this project as Drake, Kanye, E-40, Chris Brown, Jhené Aiko, Lil Wayne, John Legend, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Ariana Grande all make appearances. If you’re a fan of Tyga’s “Rack City”, 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different”, B.O.B.’s “HeadBand”, T.I.’s “No Mediocre”, or Fergie’s “L.A. Love (La La)” then you’ll probably like the sound of the album. Reason being, the producer behind all these hits, DJ Mustard, is heavily involved in Dark Sky Paradise.

What Will His Words Say?– Save for “One Man Can Change the World” don’t expect Big Sean to drop introspective, uplifting lyrics. Sean’s style is deeply rooted in a braggadocios mindset, i.e. Kanye in his later albums, or as Kanye puts it in “Dark Fantasy”, “Me found bravery in my bravado”.
Where Big Sean truly shines is when he has a phat beat behind him and can just rattle off brag after boast, see “I Don’t F*** With You”. However, what separates this Big Sean album from his first two is the inclusion of a song like “One Man Can Chance the World” in which Sean leans on the smooth styling of John Legend to create a heartwarming ode to his grandmother and comes off as a genuine person, interested in more than women and wealth. The album closes with “Outro”, in which Sean samples funk, soul singer Darondo’s 1973 hit “Didn’t I”. “Outro” has Kanye’s influence all over it, as West is the master of catchy sampling, and if you don’t believe me just listen to The College Dropout. All in all, the album has a nice balance of in your face and slow it down, something that Big Sean needed, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s got a plethora of solid songs and serves as a return to form for Big Sean.

Target Audience- Fans of any of the following artists: Kanye West, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole

Key Tracks from Dark Sky Paradise – “Blessings” (track 2), “I Don’t F*** With You” (track 4), “Play No Games” (track 5), “Win Some, Lose Some” (track 7), “I Know” (track 9), “One Man Can Change the World” (track 11), “Outro” (track 12), “Research” (bonus track 14)

Grade: Solid 9.0 (out of 10)
*Big Sean will be playing at the Rave on May 23rd and will be joining J. Cole on The Forest Hills Drive tour this summer