Big Sean photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg on Jan. 27, 2015 in Los Angeles.
From the mixed reception of his Hall of Fame album, to being overshadowed by Kendrick Lamar on “Control,” Big Sean took some professional blows, but he’s back to deliver what could very well be a game-changing studio album.
Similar to how My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy showcased Kanye West‘s artistic evolution, Dark Sky Paradise has the potential to put Sean at the same level as his mentor one day. “I always wanna be better than my last,” the rapper explained to invited press during a listening session at the Soho House in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Friday, Feb. 5. “I want to be in this for the long run, I want to be the best at what I do and I give it 110 percent.”
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The lyrical delivery on Dark Sky Paradise is more pristine, the writing is sharper, his confidence is up, and he has some of the best producers in rap (Mike Will Made-It, Da Internz, Key Wayne, DJ Mustard, Vinylz, and Boi-1da) behind him.
The guest list isn’t too shabby either. West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Jhene Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign, and Chris Brown are among the features, while titles like “Paradise” “Win Some, Lose Some,” and the venting on “Deep,” depict what Sean called the “high points and low points” of chasing a dream.
The most inspiring among the Dark Sky Paradise cuts is “One Man Can Change the World” featuring West and John Legend. Besides getting more of “singing Yeezy” (his vocals harmonize nicely next to Legend’s baritone, by the way) “One Man Can Change the World” pays homage to Sean’s late grandmother, and includes a recorded conversation between the two.
As the piano-driven track boomed through the dimly lit room, Sean wiped away tears. Maybe his emotion was a show of gratitude rather than grief though. From the sounds of it, Sean’s grandmother set an example that he’s carried over into his rap career.
“I give it the best I can,” he reiterated. “I hope you guys appreciate it.”