March 22, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: Big Sean brings huge hits with even greater wordplay

"Dark Sky Paradise"

Big Sean

“Dark Sky Paradise,” largely produced by Kanye West, is Big Sean’s third album. West, who was mentored by Jay-Z, who was mentored by the Notorious B.I.G., is now a mentor to Big Sean. With that pedigree, there’s a higher expectation for this album. “Dark Sky Paradise” boasts solid verses and great production, as well as a few ready-made hits. The album could use more variety, but Sean puts a strong effort into proving he’s as great as he says he is.

While Sean’s lyricism is smart, it does get repetitive. The hook of “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” states, “I started from the basement, made it to the skyscrapers.” This is luxury rap, and Sean brags about how he’s successful and rich now. “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” is an excellent track and the wordplay is clever and memorable, showing where he came from, how far he’s come and how rich he is. A full album’s worth of one theme that’s already pervasive in rap gets tiresome.

Big Sean got some all-stars to do guest work. Drake, West, Ariana Grande, John Legend, Chris Brown and others are featured on the album. Sean is still the star of the record though, and never gets overshadowed despite the company.

“I Don’t F— with You” is a major standout and has already gone platinum. A soulful sample is played over drums and strings to open, immediately grabbing attention. Sean comes in with a delightful and explicit hook before going into a clever first verse. The punchlines build on one another, resulting in a killer hit. The rest of the album is much like this, as the drums and instrumentation serve to present Sean’s wordplay.

When Sean doesn’t rap about himself, it stands out. On “One man can Change the World,” West and Legend provide the hook on a slower track where Sean talks about his admiration for his grandmother. It’s pleasant and different. More variety like this would have helped the album become a classic.

“Dark Sky Paradise” proves Sean is a true rap superstar. Some tracks are notably better than others, and hearing Sean say how great he is grows tiresome, but West’s production and Sean’s verses combine to make a great album all the same.