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Big Sean Delivers An Album Worth Waiting For With ‘Hall Of Fame’

Big Sean is in a different zone. Just a few years ago, Sean was working his way up to becoming the ambassador for his city with a number of mixtapes that caught fire, namely 2010’s Finally Famous Vol 3: Big and 2012′s Detroit. In a successful attempt at finding a larger audience, Sean’s delivered plenty of potential crossover tracks such as “High Rise,” “Memories” and “Mula.” While those became huge records for his Internet fanbase, the confident MC stepped it up on his debut Finally Famous, which included some of his strongest songs and biggest hits like “Marvin & Chardonnay” (featuring Kanye West and Roscoe Dash) and “Dance (A$$)”. Fast-forward to his second LP and the former XXL Freshman is at a space where he’s not only famous but comfortable in his own skin. Despite the numerous false starts for a release date, Hall Of Fame has finally arrived and it’s well worth the wait.

Most would say the Def Jam signee dug himself a hole by letting go of “Control,” which was a cut that didn’t make the final version of the album. Kendrick’s verse got such a big reaction that Sean’s then buzzing single “Beware” was overshadowed and the hype for the album simmered down a bit. In spite of that, Sean took everything in stride, apparently confident that the album would speak for itself. This time around, he’s ventured into writing more conceptual songs, each tackling an issue or personal topic bolstered by moments of honesty and a sharp eye for detail.

The album’s intro “Nothing Is Stopping You,” produced by Key Wane, tells Sean’s familiar story of how his dreams came into fruition: “What’s up, Finally Famous/I had it on my jacket way back in high school.” On other areas of the album, his ability to detail his work ethic with vigor is both entertaining and inspiring, especially on the thumping “10 2 10.” Later on “First Chain” he reflects on his own place in the lineage of hip-hop with some assistance from Nas and Kid Cudi, sharing memories of his climb to the top and explaining why it’s essential to rock the gold to prove you made it. “I be stuntin’/ Stuntin’ like I got my first chain,” Sean raps. “B.I.G. was the first one that had it/ Then I saw Nas’ chain, man, that was ‘Illmatic’/ Then, I saw Kanye’s hanging from his gold necklace/ Then ‘Ye gave me mine, I’ll show you my work ethic.”

Like many of his heroes, Big Sean isn’t afraid to aim for mass appeal. His quest to offer a balanced and eclectic album works here because of his consistently strong choices for collaborators. There are nods to EDM and R&B, but his guests don’t sound out of place. Ellie Goulding assists on “You Don’t Know,” which crafts a story about a rapper chasing a girl of his desires. Sean also rekindles his chemistry with the ratchet team of Nicki Minaj and Juicy J, who both appear on “M.I.L.F.,” and he cooks up a heartfelt number with James Fauntleroy on “World Ablaze.” Then Key Wane once again provides a triumphant and energetic backdrop for his ode to the D on “It’s Time.” Specifically, this track stands out because of Young Jeezy—who is known to have a huge amount of respect in Sean’s hometown—and newcomer Payroll, who both come correct with straight bars.

Hall Of Fame moves along at a steady pace for the most part, but there are instances where Sean can’t quite find the proper footing. There’s no question that Sean’s style works well on solo tracks, utilizing his elastic flow and quotable rhymes to his advantage, but at certain points it gets tough to digest on tracks like “Mona Lisa” or the smoked-out “Toyota Music.” Even these minor shortcomings don’t supersede the fact that the album is filled with radio-friendly cuts (“Fire”) and compelling storytelling (“Ashley”). Ultimately, Big Sean is a charismatic rapper who is more than ready to carry the G.O.O.D. Music torch full-speed ahead. “Coming from a city where bullets turns bro’s into souls/Who knew from that concrete that a rose had arose,” he proclaims on “First Chain.” Finally famous over everything.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep)

  • emiko_swag

    I guess I gotta cop it now.

  • BrianRaider

    OK! 313 All Day! Sean Do Your Thing. I Hope I Can Be Freshman One Day!

    • Lebron

      Why do you type the first letter of all your words with capital letters?

      • Lefty 2 Gunz

        why is a grown man worried about how and Grown man types?

        • Lebron

          Because I can.

  • JJJJJJ

    …gotta be kidding…

  • Hip-Hop Opinion

    is this a joke

    • joe

      has to be

      • Eric Diep

        What didn’t you guys like about the album?

        • juju

          it would have been a decent mixtape, not an album. I like some of sean’s work, but I Wouldn’t spend the $ for it honestly. This is his sophomore album and he’s signed to Kanye F’in West…the quality doesn’t add up…

        • bob

          what we didnt like? Well he has no own identity. He sounds like lil wayne, drake and kanye west. Those annoying ttrapbeats which sound all the same. his voice is annoying and this album is far from a classic according to the hype surrounding this album

  • nino

    xxl fell off The Source need to get back

  • Garrett

    I mean this is a magazine that gave Jay-z a near XXL rating for MCHG so nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to this shit.

  • JustThaTruth

    The albums projected to sell 75k-85k 1st week. Meaning this is the second time he’s been trampled in sales by the likes of J. Cole, Kendrick, Rocky, Wale, hell…even Meek Mill.

  • King Lo$o

    The Source have given Big Sean four mics as well, so this has to be pretty dope….

  • 2012Industry1

    This album was disappointing. Detroit was better! It started to pick up after about 5 songs, but never took off. I liked it better than Wale’s, but it could have been much better. XXL, not agreeing with this one.

  • SIMPLY.UNIK

    album is dope @ first didnt like it…2 or 3 listens and now it made u know lets feeeeel gooood get haaaaapppy..albumis in my top 5 4 the year so far..thanks Big sean 4 a good project wrth my $ gonna cop it 2morrow pay day

  • FamOverEverything93

    Haha, this must be a joke…But xxl has no credibility in my book

  • Guest

    Yea just coped the physical…..thanks juicy 4 a enjoyable album 2 bang in the ridddddddddddeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Rack Em

    I thought this album sucked tbh. Got a little more than halfway through and I couldn’t even finish it. The good songs on there were all the ones everyone’s already head.

  • CJ

    I had high hopes for this album. The tracks he was releasing leading up to the album dropping were all dope but overall the album was a big let down. Dont understand why some sites are giving it a good review

  • BANGBANG

    still better than yeezus but thats not saying much. Born sinner still AOTY so far. Drakes up next I guess

  • Lefty 2 Gunz

    Shout Out to Big Sean .. dope ass album.. NiggaS Are gonna hate cuz they want everybody to sound like kendrick lamar and dont appreciate each artist for own individuality … JORDAN Might HAve been the Best but people need to learn to Appreciate Barkley … Malone.. PATRICK.. CLYDE… etc… YOUR BIG SEAN .. NOT SEAN LAMAR.. YOU DO YOU WELL the Album is banger the Intro Was fire Nigga MAd Creative.. The Cover was dope took me back to the 90′s .. For some reason Guap Gives Me a H to the Izzo vibe i think you should have waited to drop it as a single till right before album .. when I was In LA i saw HALL OF FAME ADs Everywhere You are doing your Thing Get Yo money nigga and Represent for not only Michigan but for the whole midwest.. and Maybe On Day you will be the Great Of ALL BIGs and All SEANS ..much love from Chi-town to D-town BOIIIIII

  • Cleveland

    yall are fuckin’. crazy. This dudes album was hard it deserves this rating. ya damn haters. no ears for music here smh

  • 50

    first of all you niggas crazy, big sean has mad rhyme schemes and word play

  • Judge Dredd

    Fuck your review…. this album was is and will always be trash…. Sean is horrible, and the reviewer clearly is not a connoisseur of rap music…. You guys fucking suck….including your senior staff editor….. The idiot that claims to be raising the bar, but posting sub par reviews….. You all suck.