For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.
After taking a three year hiatus, following luke-warm reception to his 2017 album “I Decided,” and an overwhelmingly negative response to the collaborative album he released later that year with Metro Boomin – ironically titled “Double or Nothing” – Big Sean’s new album “Detroit 2” marks a permanent step away from superstardom.
Sequel to the 2012 mixtape “Detroit,” part two – the album version – delivers a much different experience in almost every regard. Each project boasts features from some of the biggest artists in the game at the time and each project features interludes from three highly respected entertainers, however, the similarities end there.
Previously rapping about fame, fortune and the fast-life, with 2017’s “I Decided.” Sean took his music in a new direction of peace, positivity and personal growth. Doubling down on these new themes in “Detroit 2,” Sean delivers his second solo-album in a row without an undeniable hit-record like “I Don’t Fuck With You” or “Clique.”
Leading up to the release of “Detroit 2,” Sean set the tone releasing “Deep Reverence,” featuring the late Crenshaw king, Nipsey Hussle. On the track, Sean opens up about his overblown beef with Kendrick Lamar, the baby he lost and thoughts of suicide. Sean, only displays this level of vulnerability once more on the song “Lucky Me,” where he speaks to his public break-up with R&B singer and current girlfriend Jhené Aiko and having been diagnosed with heart disease at 19-years-old. These topics are all left at the surface level and unfortunately, we never get to hear directly how Sean feels about any of it – only that he’s gone through it.
After focusing an entire album around the theme of reflection with “I Decided,” Sean captures his life path and what it’s cost him with an effortless delivery, resembling conversation, on the track “Everything That’s Missing.” Along with “Guard Your Heart,” “Full Circle” and “Feed,” in which he focuses on the conflictions within fame. These are the songs where Sean is in his element.
On the flip side of things, time and time again on this project, Sean falls short of a hit-record – lacking the undeniable catchiness factor on the song “Harder Than My Demons,” not giving Post Malone the entire chorus of “Wolves” or letting Travis Scott give up half-way through the hook on “Lithuania.” For someone with as much experience as Sean, it’s as if he’s actively trying to avoid a hit.
Fortunately, Sean saves the best for last, ending the album on an extremely high note, beginning with the song “Don Life,” featuring a strong verse from Lil Wayne and sampling the legendary Michael Jackson’s classic song “Human Nature.”
For the next track, “Friday Night Cypher,” Sean recruits 10 fellow Detroit MCs to rap over eight different beats that mostly cater to each artist. Sean delivers two of his best performances of the album on these songs and the latter is a moment not soon to be forgotten by fans of hip-hop.
With “Detroit 2,” Sean delivers a project more honest and open than anything he’s released before but at the cost of the quality of his music. After three years off, Sean’s musical abilities remain unchanged and his concept of quality has suffered. Most songs are ruined by a bad flow here, a lazy hook, poor arrangements or overproduction that make them hard to listen to outside of the context of the album.