It’s been a little over a year since the release of Big Sean’s debut album, Finally Famous, and his presence has certainly been felt. From keeping the charts occupied with a number of singles to lending his vocals to several key features, the G.O.O.D. Music wonder kid has been all over the place. His star has continued to shine since he first caught ears with his Finally Famous mixtape series. Of course in the current music climate, commercial success is still very much dependent on the mixtape buzz, so it was only right for Big Sean to return to his roots with Detroit.
From the very beginning Sean proves that his growth as an artist has benefitted him well. “24 K of Gold” sounds like it could have easily been included as a single on his debut, and a complimentary verse from J.Cole adds to it’s replay value. “How It Feel” captures the surprise voice of Barry White in the sample, backed with braggadocio rhymes that have haven proven to be a signature of Sean. He definitely front loads the beginning of the project with the stand out tracks, giving listeners a glimpse into the sound he may be going for on his next official album.
The problem with letting the highlights of the tape play early, is that it takes a sub par leap sooner than expected. This could be partially blamed on the guests he decided to include on the album more so than his own doing. We’re all used to hearing great tracks contaminated with struggle raps by artists that probably would never have gotten looks anywhere else. Fortunately most of these appearances are all on “Woke Up”, which is skippable at best. Of course for every unnecessary feature Big Sean cashes in with scene stealing verses from Kendrick Lamar and Royce da 5’9 on “100”, and an instant if not redundant club banger from French Montana on “Mula”.
The unique part about Detroit is Sean chooses to include interludes that feature stories about his city, as told by big name artists that have fond memories of Motown. Young Jeezy, Common, and Snoop Dogg (yes, that’s what we’ll call him) add introspection with their respective tales. The interludes give the project an identity as opposed to just being a collection of songs that won’t make the album. Then just when one believes this to be nothing more than a project composed of some of Sean’s most abrasive rhymes, he shows a sense of vulnerability that is rarely seen with him. “Sellin Dreams” featuring Chris Brown is a case of what happens when casual sex isn’t so casual anymore and feelings become to strong. “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” has him bearing his soul as he vents on the pressures he’s dealt with since finally becoming famous. While the subject isn’t the most original, hearing it from his perspective makes it fresh, and is a strength that he should demonstrate more.
In the end, it’s safe to say that while Big Sean has enjoyed his recent success, he still has much more to prove. If Detroit is any indication, then he’s more than up to the task of doing just that. It’s obvious that some of the songs placed here weren’t exactly album worthy, but there are more than enough that could potentially catapult a number of careers here. Sample clearances are probably the main reasons why those gems will be forced to live on this mixtape, but it’s a free treat worth appreciating. Besides if these are all tracks that were left on the cutting floor, then curiosity over what’s being left in the vault has just peaked for the Detroit artist.
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