Big Sean - Finally Famous
After a few delays, 2010 XXL Freshman and Kanye West-protégé, Big Sean releases his G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam debut, Finally Famous. Maybe I shouldn’t call him a newcomer, Sean has been putting out some good music for the last few years on the mixtape scene. Will he follow the same hot-mixtape- to-mediocre-album path that so many others have? Will Def Jam neuter the lyricism? Well, let’s make like your mom’s hairstylist and run through the tracks.
Over a soft piano loop and some even softer chords, Big Sean touches on the journey that brought him to this point. A short intro, but very reflective, and poetic. A sample:
I put the city on my back
So that way if I fall
I’m crowd surfing the map
I turn mistakes into lessons
Dead ends to exits
On the journey of my life
So I’m inviting ya’ll to get in
“I Do It”
This one is really a display of the skills that got him signed. It’s full of quirky wordplay and unexpected metaphors. A simple beat with hard kicks is just enough to allow to him black out. Good stuff.
“My Last” (feat. Chris Brown)
If you own or have come hear a radio recently, I’m sure you’ve heard this one. Not usually my cup of tea, but it’s a great rap-R&B collab. With Chris Brown present, it (successfully) aims for the screaming girls on 106& Park.
“Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”
The teen-fangirl bait continues. A love song? Not really. At time it borders on Drake-level heartbreak-rap(which I like actually). His voice is straining and forceful like he’s spitting some real emotional ish, but it’s superficial and feels, well, forced. Sean doesn’t go deeper emotionally(like Drake), mostly keeping things at a physical/sex level. He’s a young artist, fans will expect more as he matures, though.
“Wait for Me” (feat. Lupe Fiasco)
Though Lupe Fiasco drops a very slick verse, this track is pretty skippable. Uninteresting production from No I.D., who handles most of the album. It’s low energy, which is good sometimes, but not this time.
“Marvin & Chardonnay” (feat Roscoe Dash and Kanye West)
Roscoe Dash on the hook (no, seriously Roscoe Dash) really brings some much needed energy to the album on ‘Marvin(Gaye) & Chardonnay’ with Kanye. No need for deep analysis, it’s a great uptempo club track that got my head moving. Yeezy steals the show here with a wild verse, but Sean is never lacking. This is scheduled be the next single and it will likely destroy the radio and the charts.
Crazy bass line plus playful lyrics about a certain female body part equals PERFECT stripper music! I guarantee the next time you go visit Diamond, China, or Cristal, she will be disappointing her father to this track right here. A sampling of Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” just makes it all the more entertaining. It’s more objectifying than misogynistic, so that’s not so bad, right? Oh well, Essence magazine will probably have a town hall meeting over this, but I really like it. Sorry, ladies….*shrugs*
“Get It(DT)” (feat Pharrell)
Sounds like something The Neptunes had laying around since The Black Album days. However, this reviewer is a sucker for a synth-driven Neptunes track and Pharrell falsetto. Sean drops some slower flow braggadocio that matches the track well. Great track to ride to.
“Memories pt II” (feat. John Legend)
This is a remixing of a song from the Finally Famous mixtape series. Sean reflects over this soul-inspired track. Decent, but again, he just skims the surface of his emotions. He won’t take that extra step. Shame, because he possesses the talent to do it.
“High” (feat. Wiz Khalifa and Chiddy Bang)
Okay, the song is called “High”, it features Wiz Khalifa, and the EXACT length of the song is 4:20. So, you know what to expect. Whether you’re into the subject matter or not, this is a hot track, smoking, if you will. Definitely a highlight on this release and a great candidate for another single. Xaphoon Jones (of alt-hip-hop group Chiddy Bang) provides the sonics and it has a nice mid-tempo bounce for head-rocking. It’s a smoothed-out version of their usual hip-hop meets electronica sound. Khalifa helps keep things smooth with his melodic flow, but Sean sets it off with a bang. Sample:
Now I’m in the building like two planes b****
Kickin’ it with my shirt off, on some Liu Kang s***
Sleep with the sun up like I grew fangs b****
I come alive in the night, on some Bruce Wayne s***
“Live this Life” (feat. The Dream)
Wow, if you were feeling nice from the previous “high,” this definitely kills the buzz. The Dream brings a lame hook, Sean drops some the weak verses about living it up or something. Uggh. If you bought the digital version, just delete it.
“So Much More”
There are no Kanye West-produced songs on Finally Famous, but this No I.D production has the most Kanye feel to it. Using the vocal sample as part of the rhythm, it sounds reminiscent of “Let The Beat Build”. Sean really goes in and spits in a near-freestyle flow for about 3 minutes, then Sean talks to the listener about realizing his dreams (making it), like “Last Call” on College Dropout.
He closes his verse (and the album) with these few lines which really sum up where Big Sean feels is his place in hop-hop right now.
Without any preparation, I exceed these expectations
Man they wanna see me dead, but I gave ‘em dedication
And I’m yelling f*** ‘em all with a hundred exclamations
Cause I’ma be the man til my fucking expiration
Finally Famous is a solid debut from Big Sean. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this release. This is a major label debut album, I expected a ton of guest appearances and R&B cuts like “Live This Life”, but those were kept to an acceptable minimum.This really allowed the focus to remain on the artist. The lack of any Kanye West production is little shocking. No I.D handled the bulk of the beat duties, but most of the standout tracks(“Marvin..”, “Dance”, “High”) were not produced by him. It’s not bad, but nothing(from No I.D. was) fresh or noteworthy. On the lyrics side of things, Sean is rarely lacking. His quirky rhymes may not appeal to all, but it’s hard to deny his skill. The album has a good balance radio-fare and straight fan service and is worth a listen.
Big Sean’s Official Site
charliedigital is guest contributor to MusicandModeling.com. Find his random tweets and re-tweets on hip-hop, black culture, and technology @charliedigital