Big Sean, I Decided. | Album Review
Big Sean is in introspective mode on his fourth studio album, ‘I Decided.’ Although imperfect, he showcases newfound maturity.
Big Sean had an awesome year in 2015, with the release of his third album, Dark Sky Paradise. Dark Sky Paradise followed a flop for the Detroit MC (Hall of Fame). After earning a platinum plaque, he returns with I Decided., his most introspective album to date. I Decided. lacks the punch that made Dark Sky Paradise his breakthrough of sorts, but shows artistic maturation.
The “Intro” sets the tone for I Decided. Taken from the perspective of an older Big Sean, the rapper is regretful about his status in life. “God, I know we rarely talk, but every day I wake up I feel like, like I blew it with my family, with her, these kids around me don’t have no one to look up to.” “Light” segues, with Sean getting the assist from Jeremih. Featuring a couple of prudently selected samples, he has an excellent backdrop to paint his positive rhymes upon. “Light” is as bright as the title suggests, finding Sean in full-on shine mode. After all, “…a loaded mind is more dangerous than a loaded weapon.”
“Bounce Back” is characterized by tight production work – slick drums and dark synths, set in a minor key. As always, the rhymes are agile. His flow continues to be a selling point, delivering compelling wordplay, particularly with “bounce.” The second verse trumps the first, showing a more confident, punchier Big Sean. The hook is the major selling point:
“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back / wake up every morning, by the night, I count stacks / knew that ass was real when I hit, it bounce back / (you ain’t getting checks) / Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back / boy I been broke as hell, cashed a check and bounced back / D-town LAX, every week I bounce back / if you a real one, then you know how to bounce back.”
“No Favors” pairs Big Sean with a legend: Eminem! Even with Em aboard, the song is bizarre, lacking a knockout punch. Sean continues with his respectable, rhythmic flow, but lyrically, it’s not game changing. As for Eminem, the verse begins very low-key, seemingly lacking energy. Once he warms up, he delivers fire, including references to Jamie Lee Curtis, Aaron Hernandez, Ann Coulter, and President Donald Trump. As a whole, “No Favors” is imperfect, but there’s something there.
“Jump Out the Window” finds the rapper tackling an abusive relationship. Not his own, but that of a girl he wants to be his bae. He paints the picture partly that this woman doesn’t know how special she is, but the outro also seems a bit selfish as opposed to selfless on his end of things. At times, Sean both sings and raps. It’s not bad, but profound isn’t the correct adjective either.
“Moves” is brief, confident, and shallow. Featuring minimalist, dark sounding production, a recurring synth is audible, but booming 808s drums dominate. Big Sean is on, particularly the hook:
“I got the moves / I got the moves / I’m making moves / you gotta move / She make the back move / She made her titties move / I make the city move / I make the city move.”
“Same Time Pt. 1” features TWENTY88 – aka Big Sean himself and Jhené Aiko. Lush, “Same Time Pt. 1” merely whets the palate, clocking in at one minute-and-a-half. Still, Sean and Aiko make a formidable pairing. “Owe Me” features sick, banging production. Sure, the sound is cliché, but highly effective.
“Halfway Off the Balcony”
“Halfway Off the Balcony” opens forebodingly, giving off a dark vibe. As a groove begins to assert itself, Big Sean delivers his signature line, “I look up.” He begins to pop-rap, giving a unique performance. Depth doesn’t accurately describe the hook, but the rapper articulates his points. He’s been examining life deeper, considering his platform as a rapper to be more important than making money. Furthermore, his relationships should be more about emotional connections as opposed to sex.
“Voices in My Head / Stick to the Plan” gives Sean an enjoyable, intriguing two-part song. In the context of I Decided, it ranks as one of the more compelling joints. The first part, “Voices,” is more enigmatic and relatively brief. Metro Boomin produces the second part, “Stick to the Plan,” which is more malicious.
“Sunday Morning Jetpack”
“Sunday Morning Jetpack” featuring The-Dream is among the most mellow songs on I Decided. Furthermore, it is one of the most beautiful songs on the LP. Here, Sean thrives in reflective mode. The-Dream is used limitedly, but even so, he sounds exceptional. The hook is among the shining spots:
“Thank you God for all my setbacks / ‘Cause he the reason I’m able to give back / This feels like my Sunday morning jetpack / Feel like I sent prayers up and got blessed back…”
“Inspire Me” isn’t the best song from I Decided., but it’s meaningfulness is notable. The rapper pays ode to his mother, thanking her everything she’s done for him. Penultimate record “Sacrifices” gives the rapper another big-time collaboration, this time with Migos. “Sacrifices” isn’t nearly as electrifying as “Bad and Boujee,” but gives I Decided some more oomph. “Bigger Than Me” is a respectable closer, featuring The Flint Chozen Choir and Starrah. He details his accomplishments but also emphasizes such accomplishments and success transcend himself. The closer is another solid reflective number.
Ultimately, I Decided. is a somewhat difficult album to analyze as a whole. It is quite different from Dark Sky Paradise, not to mention the two albums that arrive prior to that effort. In some respects, Big Sean is more mature – there’s no “Dance (A$$)” or “MILF.” His reflective approach shows that the Detroit rapper is in a different frame of mind. The problem is, at times, the material lacks memorability, even if it’s more thoughtful. All in all, there is plenty to like about I Decided., though it isn’t devoid of flaws.
Gems: “Light,” “Bounce Back,” “Halfway Off the Balcony,” “Voices in My Head / Stick to the Plan”, “Sunday Morning Jetpack” & “Bigger Than Me”