Tag Archives: One Man Can Change the World

Review: I Decided.

i-decided-cover
via Henncredibly Dope

I Decided. (2017)

Big Sean

Rap / Hip-Hop

GOOD Music / Def Jam


When you stack up Big Sean’s I Decided. against his previous albums like Hall of Fame and his debut Finally Famous, it is quite clear that the Detroit-based rapper has taken a more introspective turn in his career.  Songs like “Dance (A$$)” and “Guap” are a thing of the past compared to his more recent offerings.  Dark Sky Paradise was a good indication of this change, mixing fun and more lighthearted party rap with deeper, reflective tracks.  I Decided., Big Sean’s fourth studio album, is not unlike what other rappers have been doing lately, but it still is Big Sean’s best work yet.

i-decided-1
via Dancehall Hip-Hop

Things get rolling, theme-wised, in the album’s intro track.  Big Sean’s older self, voiced by actor J.R. Starr gets hit by a car and dies.  He is then reincarnated as his present self in another life.  The whole album serves as a reflection on Sean’s life, with his older self is giving him advice and wisdom every step of the way.  It is a cool theme, but one that is underused.  The intro track came and went but I was only reminded of the theme later in the album on “Halfway Off the Balcony.”  I Decided. has a clear and consistent message throughout, but I would have liked the bits with J.R. Starr to be sprinkled a little more throughout.

“Bounce Back,” the most popular song from the album, also happens to be one of the highlights from the project.  It is an upbeat banger about bouncing back after taking an “L”.  Big Sean has some great flow on the track, similar in style to the flow found on Drake’s song “6 Man.”  Next on the track list is “No Favors,” a controversial collaboration with everyone’s favorite rabble-rouser Eminem.  Produced by WondaGurl, the song marks the first time Eminem has appeared on a Big Sean’s album.  Big Sean’s verse is great, but the biggest take-away is Eminem’s verse, where he makes a bunch of verbal jabs, including a threat against Ann Coulter.  Whether he meant it or not (he probably did not), people are still taking some offense.  This is not the first time Eminem has said something controversial.  He is the king of controversy of course.  It should not be a surprise to anyone.

i-decided-2
via Saint Heron

These are not the only bangers that appear on the album.  “Voices in My Head/Stick to the Plan,” produced by Metro Boomin, is another great track with a double-edged sound.  In the song, Big Sean tells himself and his listeners to stay true to himself and to heed the advice of your elders.  Then things heat up and quicken as Metro steers the beat in a new direction with the second part, where Sean convinces himself to stay focused amid the endless distractions of drugs, money, and sex.  One of the more personal tracks, “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” is a song full of nostalgia and the struggles and how they made him the person he is today.  The song features The Dream, who gives a great hook over a breezy beat.  The song almost acts as an alternative “One Man Can Change the World,” one of the strongest offerings from Dark Sky Paradise.

Not every track is a slam dunk.  “Same Time Pt. 1,” featuring Big Sean’s lady friend Jhene Aiko, is an underwhelming ballad that features a less-than-stellar verse from Aiko.  I was expecting a little more from the TWENTY88 duo.  There is also “Inspire Me,” which is a cliché and sappy tribute to Sean’s mother and the role she has played in the rapper’s life.  It is sweet in concept but does not bring anything fresh to the table when compared to similar tracks from other rappers.

i-decided-3
via Stupid Dope

I Decided. is capped with “Bigger Than Me,” a booming track featuring Starrah and the Flint Chozen Choir.  Big Sean wraps up the album, going off about how he has made it to the top but still needs to improve as a person.  There are some great moments with the choir and a nice verse from Starrah.  The track ends with a phone call with Big Sean’s grandma, just like his previous albums.  A lot of I Decided. is predictable, but it is the culmination of Big Sean’s career in a good way.  Big Sean has matured as a rapper and a person and that is prevalent in almost every corner of his latest project.  There are bangers galore and reflection aplenty.  Big Sean fans will rejoice.

i-decided-score

Advertisements

The VMAs 2015 Recap

via People
via People

MTV was hyping this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to be super crazy and off the rails.  There was even talk about the program being put on a slight delay.  Why?  Well, because Miley Cyrus was hosting them and let’s just say she knows a thing or two about crazy.  All you have to do is take a quick look at her Instagram to see why.  Ever since she left her squeaky clean Hannah Montana image behind her, she has redefined what it means to be an attention grabber.  With her hosting the VMAs, things were probably going to get weird…except they didn’t.  It was actually a relatively tame showing from Miley, with the emphasis being put on the multitude of performances.

Nicki Minaj started off the night with a raucous performance of “Trini Dem Girls,” complete with tribal dancing and vaginal slapping, pretty much par for the course when it comes to a Nicki Minaj performance.  She then moved on to “The Night Is Still Young,” where the crowd was met with a surprise when Taylor Swift came out to join her on stage.  If you didn’t know already, the two had some beef brewing between them, but if this performance meant anything, the beef between them had finally been squashed.  What a way to start the show.

With one celebrity squabble crushed another one was built up…by Nicki Minaj of course.  After being presented the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, Nicki Minaj proceeded to call out Miley Cyrus who was standing on the other side of the stage.  Miley Cyrus was talking negatively about her in an interview a while back and Nicki thought the bright stage of the VMAs would be the best place to settle things.  Things didn’t really settle however, but only got worse, leaving us with a pretty awkward moment.

via Hugo Gloss
via Hugo Gloss

Now that we’re on the topic of Miley Cyrus, let’s talk about her hosting performance shall we?  She was pretty tame in terms of the things she did.  She started with a brief little monologue talking about how MTV will probably go back to having no hosts by the time the night is over.  The monologue had some other jokes here and there that pretty much fell completely flat.  Miley Cyrus is better when she does her own thing, without a script put in front of her.  She had numerous wardrobe changes, some more interesting than others, as the night went on.  There were also a number of sketches that were sprinkled in between.  Aside from an “accidental” nip slip towards the end and a head scratching performance at the end, Miley wasn’t really the Miley that most were probably expecting.  In fact, she kind of left me disappointed.  She got progressively more annoying as the night went on and definitely less funny as well.  Perhaps the most surprising thing coming from her end was a surprise announcement of a free album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.”  Pretty bold move…

via Billboard
via Billboard

As far as other performances go, there wasn’t really any “bad” performances.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis graced the outdoor stage outside the theater with a performance of their newest single “Downtown.”  The Weeknd gave a pretty solid performance of “Can’t Feel My Face,” complete with flames galore.  Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky might have given us the most interesting and different performance of the night with a mash up of their songs.  I didn’t know what to expect from it at first, but I liked it.  Demi Lovato took the outdoor stage with a fun performance of “Cool for the Summer” with surprise guest Iggy Azalea…who no one particularly asked for.  There was also a cool performance from Pharrell Williams of his newest song “Freedom” that took place on the outdoor stage as well.  I thought the stage outside the Orpheum Theater in the streets of Los Angeles was a pretty cool setting in my opinion.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Justin Bieber made his return to the VMA stage after a five year hiatus.  That span of five years has been pretty tough for the young rascal and he looked like a changed man last night.  He gave an electric performance of “Where Are U Now,” followed by his newest song “What Do You Mean” which ended with Bieber literally flying in the sky performing some acrobatics.  After making his landing safe and sound, the artist was in tears…for no apparent reason.  Perhaps it was because he felt good to finally be back on stage again after all he has been through…or maybe it was the straps that might have rubbed him the wrong way…your guess is as good as mine.

via ET Online
via ET Online

As far as the televised awards go, Taylor Swift might have to be considered the big winner.  She took home the Best Female Video award for “Blank Space” and Video of the Year award for “Bad Blood,” among others.  Artist to Watch was given to Fetty Wap, most notably for his hit “Trap Queen.”  Best Male Video was given to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for their infectious jam “Uptown Funk.”  Finally, the award for Best Video with A Social Message went to Big Sean, Kanye West, and John Legend for “One Man Can Change the World.”  Big Sean probably gave the acceptance speech of the night, dedicating it to his late Grandma who was a war pilot.  It was a well-deserved award for Sean.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Let’s be serious though, perhaps the most talked about and most important portion of the night was the presentation of the Video Vanguard Award, which was presented to Kanye West.  It was only fitting that Taylor Swift would be the one to present Kanye his award because of their past VMA history.  Anyway, Kanye soon took the stage and just stood there for a good minute, soaking it all up.  The crowd was going crazy, shouting “Yeezy” chants left and right.  Kanye finally took the mic and started rambling on and on about a whole variety of different things ranging from his daughter to groceries to celebrity beef to award show and the culture that surround them.  I have to admit, I kind of lost him a couple of times, but it was still fascinating to watch.  He ended the big speech with a joke about running for president in 2020 before dropping the mic and walking off stage.  It was a very Kanye thing to do, setting the social media sphere in flames.

via Billboard
via Billboard

Even though the show could have done just fine without the “crazy” antics and mischief from Miley, 2015’s VMAs still had its fair share of fun and talk-worthy moments.  The emphasis was on the performances, which only makes sense in this day and age. No one watches award shows for the awards anymore.  It’s all about which performance topped them all, and this year’s VMAs gave us a whole lot of performances to think about.  I struggle to pick which one was my favorite because they were all equally great and exciting. The VMAs continue to provide a fun award show experience that tops most award shows on TV these days.  I hope this trend continues on…but let’s have Miley sit out next time please?


Here’s the full list of winners from the night…VMAs 2015 8

Video of the Year: Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”

Best Male Video: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Best Female Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Artist to Watch: Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

Best Pop Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Best Rock Video: Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”

Best Video With A Social Message: Big Sean feat. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change The World”

Song of the Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer – “She’s Kinda Hot”

Review: Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise

via Hip Hop DX
via Hip Hop DX

Dark Sky Paradise (2015)

Big Sean

Rap / Hip-Hop

Label: G.O.O.D. Music & Def Jam


Let’s take a moment and look at what has been happening in rapper Big Sean’s life the past couple of years.  His sophomore album Hall of Fame proved to be a sophomore flop, he had a pretty public break-up with now ex-girlfriend Naya Rivera, found a new (and even more public) girlfriend in Ariana Grande, and he recently signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label.  That’s a lot of fuel for a big fire.  With Dark Sky Paradise, Big Sean’s third studio album, he manages to kindle those flames to produce his best album yet.

If you want a summary of the things Big Sean reflects on his introspective album, all you have to do is refer to the opening track “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers).”  Big Sean keeps it raw and goes into the sorts of themes that are scattered all over the album, including the girls he has been with, the successes he has had, and some of the mistakes and struggles he has had to deal with along the way.

via juice.de
via juice.de

With a title like Dark Sky Paradise, you would think that Big Sean would follow the apparent progression from his struggles of his past to the paradise that he’s a part of now, but this is not the case necessarily.  It seems like a missed opportunity to me, but it’s hard to argue with how an artist decides to order their tracks.

The album has a really strong start with some pretty heavy beats.  “Blessings” and “All Your Fault”, which feature Drake and Kanye West respectively, go into the successes that Big Sean has had, and how he is literally “blessed” to be at his level.  Both Big Sean and Kanye West go bar for bar on the last verse of “All Your Fault”, which was probably one of my favorite moments on the album.

via xclusiveszone.net
via xclusiveszone.net

These songs then lead to the massive commercial hit “I Don’t Fuck With You”; a song that can be possibly linked to Sean’s relationship with Naya Rivera.  At the surface level, there doesn’t seem to be too much depth to the song.  However, E-40 lends a great verse with his signature style and Big Sean once again gets introspective with the last verse, which he later revealed that he wrote with Naya Rivera on his mind.  The song also contains some good production from DJ Mustard which makes it a heavy-hitting banger.

It was at this point that the album started to trail off a bit for me.  “Play No Games”, featuring Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, and “Paradise” both were average songs that didn’t really do it for me.  However, I can’t deny that the sound of “Paradise” was probably one of the best sounds on the album.  “Win Some, Lose Some”, the first duet with Jhene Aiko, and “Stay Down” were not that special either.

via themostrequested.tv
via themostrequested.tv

It was Big Sean’s second duet with Jhene Aiko, “I Know”, that was one of the highlights on the album.  The two trade verses on a track about the struggles that someone in a rough relationship is going through.  The two both offer their support in a sexy and soulful duet.  “One Man Can Change the World” was another soulful track that dived into the subject of Big Sean’s grandmother, who recently passed away.  She was the “father figure” of sorts during his childhood, and he owed a lot too her, which he talks about on the track.  Sean also brings on Kanye West and John Legend, who were both fitting features on the track of tribute to Sean’s grandmother.

Although there were a couple of missteps along the way, Big Sean hit hard with Dark Sky Paradise.  It’s a cool experience to see the rapper go through his life and the problems he has had to put up with, and then reflect on how they have impacted his life.  There’s some moments on the album where he talks about what it would be like to “lose it all.”  It’s a good reflective question to ask yourself once in a while, but with an album like this, it’s hard to see Big Sean really “losing it all.”  He has picked himself back up from the disaster that was Hall of Fame and has moved on to his Dark Sky Paradise.

dark sky paradise score