Big Sean: I Decided Album Review
Big Sean’s fourth album I Decided postulates that this may be the Detroit native’s definitive work, but is it? Undoubtedly, his most personal work to date, I would have much preferred this pseudo-autobiographical album to be eponymous to better reflect the new layer of personal depth he introduces to the listener. Title aside, lyrically we see Big Sean continue to be the wordsmith we all came to love back in his Hall of Fame days. What we don’t see however, is Sean’s rise to the ranks of prominent storyteller like classmates Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Drake. However, “No Favors” features arguably one of hip-hop’s best storytellers and fellow Detroiter, Eminem, whose rather controversial verse takes aim at 45 and has begun to ruffle the feathers of women’s rights groups nation-wide in defense of his Ann Coulter reference.
Less gloomy than Dark Sky Paradise, I Decided shows Big Sean a bit more introspective. A thematic compilation, I Decided is seemingly broken into four parts that center around Self-actualization, Love, Loss, and Redemption. One of the gems of the album outside of standout tracks like, “Bounce Back,”
“Voices in My Head,” and “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” is “The Light.” “The Light,” features one the albums more poignant lines: “I spent my whole life trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel, I shoulda realized it was inside.” “The Light” also ascends Big Sean into the likes of Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, and Common, his all-star group of predecessors who also sampled Garry Glen’s “Intimate Friends.” On this fourth album, Big Sean forgoes features with John Legend, Lil Wayne, and Drake collaborative repeats, and instead opts to feature a few familiar friends: The Dream, Jeremih, Migos, and suspected girlfriend, Jhene Aiko. He even goes so far as to give Aiko a shout out on “Sacrifices” rapping, “My girl is a mix of Aaliyah and Sade,” seemingly confirming what we’ve all been thinking since the rise of Twenty88. Big Sean even pulls a page out of the book of Chance the Rapper, and features the Flint Children’s Choir on the album.
While there are elements on the record that may leave one pondering exactly what has Big Sean decided at the close of “Bigger Than Me,” the album’s final track, what we are certain of is that he is still on a quest to find himself, solidify his place amongst hip-hop greats, and share his growth and maturity in his own way. I Decided is not its fan favorite predecessor Dark Sky Paradise, but it is light years ahead of Finally Famous. With great production from Amaire Johnson, DJ Mustard, Metro Boomin, a bevy of new Big Sean-esque quotables, and skits that cast a light on his creativity, it’s safe to say that Big Sean has ushered in the 1st quarter of 2017 quite nicely. While it is uncertain how I Decided will measure up amongst highly anticipated albums from Drake, Wale, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross, it is a concrete addition to the Detroit MCs discography and a certified banger.
-Jes, The Nomadic