Albums are starting to drop in 2015.
Today we’re looking at Big Sean’s new project, which dropped yesterday. It’s a G.O.O.D. Music release, and Kanye along with many other rappers have unsuprisingly shown their support, congratulating Big Sean. So does it live up to the hype? It’s definitely got a lot of dope features, but Big Sean holds this shit down. Read on for my Dark Sky Paradise review.
Overall, the album is a great showcase of Big Sean’s versatility to flow on different beats and at different speeds, and it’s also a showcase of dope beats and feats. It’s consistently solid, but only has a few real dope tracks, the rest are only really good. I also think the album sounds its best when it’s just Big Sean, because he can really shine as a rapper with a dope range, but only about half the tracks don’t have any features.
For its solid sound and Big Sean’s great performance, I give Dark Sky Paradise a:
The album starts with one of the titular tracks, Dark Sky (Skyscrapers), which is a real grimy but minimal beat for Big Sean to introduce himself over. He does that dope quick repetition shit a few times, and it’s a solid intro talking about how he started from the basement and made it to skyscrapers. He goes off on the first track, setting the tone and raising expectations for the rest of the album.
The next track, Blessings, has Drake on it, and from the beginning it just sounds like a Drake track. Big Sean raps about folks talking shit behind his back but he’s made it so it doesn’t really matter, he ain’t bothered. Then Drake comes in (I mean the track is called Blessings) for the hook and spits a pretty dope verse, matching the darkish vibe on the beat. Big Sean comes back to rap about how he’s the man of the house now that his grandma died, but that just means he’s gotta work now. Even more than the intro, this is a mission statement for his album and his life.
Kanye showing some love
All Your Fault comes in as the 3rd track, sporting another kinda big feature with Kanye spitting the first verse and helping out on the beat too. This is a slower track that starts leaning into R&B on Kanye’s hooks, before Big Sean comes in talking shit with the staccato flow. Kanye and Big Sean end the track trading off real dope lines, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album. The next track has another big feature, but y’all already know I Don’t Fuck With You with E-40. It’s mad hype and you gotta scope it if you somehow haven’t yet.
Mad (but dope) features
Pretty much the opposite of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, this album is all about the features. Play No Games has Chris Brown and Ty Dolla Sign on it, and all of a sudden the album’s got kind of a soulful feel to it. The soul makes sense, cause it’s a personal track for Sean, talking about love and how he “ain’t like those other niggas” and wants to be taken seriously. The lyrics are pretty solid, but I gotta say the delivery could be a little better, but I think he was trynna rock that slightly monotone flow to complement Chris Brown’s vocal work so I’mma give him the benefit of the doubt.
The second titular track comes in the form of Paradise (Extended), which is the first since Dark Sky to not have a feature. It’s a nice change because it lets Big Sean jump around flows and show how versatile he is. It’s got a beat that sounds like it was chopped and screwed out of Laffy Taffy or something, but it’s fucking dope and it’s a hot backdrop for Sean rapping about how he always wanted Paradise. This might be the best track on the album, and I think part of that is because it’s just Big Sean going off, and he even admits he hit the booth and he went Super Saiyan.
The second half of the album starts with Win Some, Lose Some, which is also just Sean. He starts by talking about how his whole life he’s heard you win some you lose some, but “that doesn’t make it right.” It’s an introspective track where he’s rapping to himself, and we all know some of the best hip hop tracks of all time are like this. He does it pretty well, getting pretty personal but still spitting dope shit. This is the type of track that can make you a fan of Big Sean, and I definitely like the dude more after hearing it, even before he hijacks his own track and starts straight grooving on it.
The crackers ain’t gon let you get that ritz
Stay Down continues the mini-trend of no features, just Big Sean. It really slows down the album, sounding like the background of some sort of creepy fairytale. Big Sean comes in with that half rap/half R&B shit (we’ve all heard Drake’s shit) that’s either dope or trash, but this is one of those cases where it’s dope. It’s kind of a celebratory but chill track for Sean, at least until he starts going off. He does this a few times on the album, switching up the flow from smokey slow shit to that rapid-fire, almost just showing off sometimes. He also very slightly touches on social issues a few times, like he does here when he says the crackers ain’t gon let you get that ritz. Tell em, Sean.
I Know comes back with the features, and this time it’s Jhené Aiko, who actually also had uncredited vocals on Win Some, Lose Some. It starts as by far the slowest, most R&B track on the album, but Sean seems pretty damn comfortable there. This is the type of track that would play at the very end of a house party when everyone’s either gone or passed out except like 3 folks. It’s got a good, interesting sound though, and even though it’s slow it’s chill without putting you to sleep, especially when Jhené Aiko comes in and just adds a dope layer and a new direction to the track. This is also a pretty personal track, but it’s not as specific as some of the other ones.
Weezy with a mad dope feat
Deep comes in as the 10th track, and Weezy’s got this feat. It’s got an underground classy sound, like a hip hop speakeasy might sound like, and Big Sean alternates between slow/personal and fast/confident. He has a few different speeds on this track alone, and I think Sean’s at his best when he switches his flows up a lot, cause he’s mad versatile. Lil Wayne’s feat is pretty solid, as he starts layered behind Sean before his own verse which is preceeded by a single puff. Weezy kind of goes off, and it’s one of his best featured verses in years, plus it fits the track perfectly. It’s emotional, and it’s one of the highlights of the album.
Big Sean, Kanye, John Legend, best track on the album.
So who can follow Weezy on the feat? Well, One Man Can Change The World thinks that Kanye and John Legend might be able to do it. It starts with some nice piano (shout outs to John Legened) and it’s an optimistic track in the form of a letter. This shit is soulful, emotional, and it works, even when Sean’s talking about all he wanted was money and a “bad chick.” Big Sean’s at his best when his music sounds a little like R&B, whether it’s the beat or his flow. Then Kanye comes in with a mad good hook, and shit starts to sound like gospel music. Big Sean’s second verse on the track is probably his best on the album, even though he’s not going fast, it’s just mad personal and mad well-written. I think this is actually the best track on the album. John Legend handles the hook the second time, and as always he kills it. Yeah, this is the best track on the album, including the snippet of a phone call with his grandma. Good shit, Sean.
Consider me a Big Sean fan
The album (fittingly) ends with Outro, which changes up the sounds to a summertime-like, carefree beat with some soul samples (no, Kanye didn’t produce it, I checked.) Then it gets funky for Big Sean’s verse, and it’s obvious he’s going out strong, not just fading out into the night. Overall, the album is stronger in the second half, and this outro does not disappoint, giving Sean a few different beats to spit a few different dope flows over and even drop his number quick. By the end of the track (and the album), I consider myself a Big Sean fan, which I gotta say I wasn’t before this album.
Whether or not you like Big Sean, scope this album.
There’s something here for everyone, but especially if you like slower hip hop that gets a little close to R&B at times and then speeds it the fuck up at other times. If you like Big Sean, you’ll love this shit, and if you don’t like him, I think you will after giving this album a listen. To hear Big Sean switch up between mad different flows on dope varied beats, even within a track, buy yourself Dark Sky Paradise.