Two year’s after Dark Sky Paradise, Big Sean has returned with his fourth studio album I Decided, in which he is continuing his growth as an artist sticking to darker tones as opposed to his earlier fun, party like songs.
There is a tad bit of nostalgia when I think of Big Sean, mostly because he emerged on the rap scene during my more formative years early in high school when “Marvin & Chardonnay” and “Dance (A$$)” were playing in constant rotation. However, Sean has seemingly stepped away from his earlier style and adapted to have more personal subject matter in his songs, this of course has only helped him in terms of success.
Not to mention, Sean’s stayed busy since Dark Sky Paradise. He released a collaboration album in 2016 with R&B singer (now girlfriend) Jhené Aiko, TWENTY88. This marked a turning point in Sean’s career expanding on what he can do musically as well as creatively. While Dark Sky Paradise marked an evident departure into more personal music, it was with Jhené in forming TWENTY88 that Sean really escaped from his stagnant realm in the rap sphere.
But back to the present moment, I Decided manages to give us a different Sean while still maintaining his more endearing aspects. As the cover of depicts, Sean is attempting to bridge his two ego’s together in his music by implementing a mix of darker and harder beats contrasted to upbeat and trap like underdog anthems, specifically with his two hit singles “Bounce Back” and “Moves” which provide classic Big Sean energy.
Big Sean attempts to merge these qualities of excitement and optimism while at the same time fusing more introspective lyrics. The concept itself is beautiful and an idea that when done right can really expose who an artist is as a person, and while I Decided is a strong piece of work, the execution on this fusing is more forced than anything.
Obviously, Sean can put out a good song. This album only further solidifies my opinion that he is growing as an artist by experimenting more with his lyrics and beats. His 14 song track list works to play between these concepts of buoyant and thoughtful, while falling a bit short, he still succeeds in stepping away from the more juvenile music in the past.
Even if conceptually the album only some what stands up to the type of fusing I think Sean was trying to create, he does provide a solid 50 minute album with a mix of songs to pick from depending on mood. Sean also did well with his features line up, including his hometown Detroit’s own Eminem on “No Favors,” as well as features coming from Jeremih, Jhené Aiko, The Dream, Migos, and The Flint Chozen Choir and Starrah to close out the album on “Bigger Than Me.”
If anything is clear from this album, it’s that Big Sean is still steady working on who is in music. At times he can be overshadowed by bigger names, especially when he’s signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, taking him longer to be seen as major competitor to the Drake’s of the rap world. However, I Decided acts as a sort of final leaping point from his youth to an established multifaceted artist.