For 71 minutes, rapper Big Sean pulls no punches on his latest album as he lays into the highs, lows, blessings and curses that life has had to offer him.
In his fifth studio album “Detroit 2,” rapper Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, better known as Big Sean, gives us a lyrical memoir with a refreshing sense of genuineness as he does not shy away from expressing the true struggles and triumphs that ultimately culminate in the balance of his life. The album is a sequel to his 2012 mixtape, “Detroit.”
Listening to “Detroit 2” feels like eavesdropping on one of Sean’s therapy sessions as he shuffles between inflections of vulnerability and a familiar sense of brashness. If you are not listening carefully, you could miss some important revelations like Sean’s heart disease diagnoses at 19-years-old or the miscarriage a former partner suffered.
“Detroit 2” also weaves itself into the fabrics of social issues such as racial injustice with lines like, “got tired of white silence, so the riots started / and the robbers robbed / you wylin’ ‘cause your product gone? / we mad that Eric Garner, Breonna, Gianna father gone / a lot of trauma, we tired, exhausted.”
The album represents a time of renewal, healing and resilience for Sean, as he delves into his experience with meditation and alternative medicine on songs like “ZTFO” and “Lucky Me.”
Sean is candid about his struggle with mental health on the track “Deep Reverence” featuring the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. “Deep Reverence” is a stand-out track that tugs at the heart strings having Sean’s verse, following Hussle’s, react to the sudden passing of Hussle in 2019 and how his death affected him.
As if mimicking the fast-paced nature of his life, Sean never spends more than a few lines on any one topic before ultimately deflecting to a new issue. He lets us in just enough to show us what is going on behind the scenes, but never for long.
True to Sean’s style of music, his quick lipped quips show how focused and locked in he is and demands the same energy from listeners.
Stylistically, the album offers a range of songs from slow burners like “Body Language” and “Everything That’s Missing” to fast-paced beats like “Harder than my Demons” and “Don Life.” Sean enlists the help of a few A-list musicians such as Post Malone, Jhené Aiko and Travis Scott to add their personal touches to a few select tracks.
The tracks “Body Language” and “Time In” feature Sean’s on-again, off-again partner Jhené Aiko and their hip-hop duo alter ego Twenty88. Collaborations between the two are historic fan-favorites, and these tracks are no different with their smooth, sensual R&B style of love songs.
The album is also peppered with narratives from fellow Detroit lovers, Dave Chapelle, Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder about their ties to the city. Non-musical tracks on albums are a difficult feat to pull off, but these tracks hit the nail on the head as they tell three different love stories to the Motor City that only strengthen the heart and drive of this album.
Sean’s confidence and preacher-like lyrics on “Detroit 2” is reminiscent of his mentor Kanye West, who he pays tribute to with the line “the product of old Ye chopping up the sample flow” on “Why Would I Stop?”
Sean ultimately invites us to take a step back and reflect on the lives we lead, as he has done, when he says, “and you can’t believe how much you made, not money or difference / and you find out everything you had was everything you missing.”
“Guard Your Heart,” “Why Would I Stop?,” “Deep Reverence”