It’s hard not to feel like you’re on top of the world after the year Big Sean’s been having. Not only was he recently honored with an award for selling 10 million singles, but the Detroit MC has had more than a handful of guest verses in the past year that brought him even more recognition. From his critically acclaimed Detroit mix tape to appearances on last year’s Cruel Summer, Sean’s been prepping for the moment of even higher praise that his sophomore LP would grant him. After minor setbacks and failed single attempts, Hall of Fame finds Sean basking in the fruits of his labor, and demanding your attention, whether you think he deserves it or not.
“Nothing is Stopping You” produced by Key Wane, has the inspirational drive of “Higher”; the opening track from his Detroit tape. He recounts his rise to stardom, from when he first rhymed for Kanye, to getting in a position of power where unsigned artists now value his opinion. Living out his dreams becomes the theme, as we’re then shifted into “Fire.” The No I.D. production helps keep the momentum afloat, while “10 2 10” finds Sean ditching his signature monotone flow for an everyday worker’s anthem. “I woke up working like I’m Mexicannn” he shouts before proclaiming: “Nightmares of losing everything boosts my adrenaline.” It’s the kind of motivation that could help you get through that strenuous 9 to 5.
Sean has proven in the past that he’s capable of radio hits and even though “Beware” is a good listen with a verse from Wayne that’s more focus than we’ve heard in over a year, it still doesn’t go over too well. Perhaps because its so painfully obvious that it was crafted for radio? “First Chain” pairs Sean with Nas and former G.O.O.D Music signee Kid Cudi and while the subject of getting your crew chain has been ran into the ground, No I.D and Key Wane help bring this one to life with it’s crisp production, while Sean pays homage. “B.I.G. was the first one that had it/ Then I saw Nas’ chain, man, that was ‘Illmatic.’ He raps. Nas shows up for a half hearted performance, while Cudi actually shows admirable passion.
I wonder why people don’t consider Big Sean as one of the best rappers. They might consider J. Cole one of the best rappers, they might consider Drake one of the best rappers. I’ll hop on a song with Drake and out rap him and that’s my homie.- Big Sean
Sean’s ambition was shown from the beginning of his career. His desire to be taken seriously as a lyricist is compelling, but easily gets lost in the shuffle of conforming to radio hits. Nothing is wrong with that especially since that’s where the big bucks are. However, the same fans he brings in with his lyricism, are the same ones he drives away with comedic songs such as “Mona Lisa” or even “MILF” which features from Nicki Minaj and Juicy J. Although entertaining tracks, they are more so the reason he isn’t mentioned in the same breathe of “new legends” as they’ve labeled Drake and the rest of the new class. Those very songs he’s criticized for though, he seems to be the only one brave enough to make them. He shows rare vulnerability on “Ashley” featuring Miguel, by pinpointing his downfalls with his past love, and it helped him become the man he is today. Hall of Fame does a decent job highlighting Sean’s attributes and lyricism, but would’ve had a better shot at being illustrious without minor flaws and being so lengthy, clocking in at over 61 minutes. It’s an album that serves better in the moment, but will it stand the test of time maybe 4 years from now? That remains to be seen