The road to Big Sean’s latest album – titled Dark Sky Paradise – wasn’t an easy one for the rapper. Sean wasn’t having the best of luck in late 2013 and early 2014. His sophomore album, Hall of Fame, did not sell very well, and he went through a tough breakup with ex-fiancée Naya Rivera. Although these times were tough for Sean, they pushed him to be more motivated than ever. He killed every song he was featured on in 2014. Plus, this new album is a big improvement from Hall of Fame. So things are definitely starting to look up for Big Sean.
The album has a much more focused sound unlike his previous albums. These songs are pretty dark – some with an underlying happy tone. This album opens with “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers),” which is a decent opening track with good lyrics, but has a beat that is lacking. Things really pick up with the next track, “Blessings.” This song is a lot better and features Drake who has a verse and is also on hook-duty. The version that also features Kanye West didn’t make the album, but I suggest you give it a listen. Although he didn’t make it on “Blessings,” Kanye did make it onto the best song on the album: “All Your Fault.” The song features a soul-sampled beat produced by Travi$ Scott, a verse from Kanye, one from Sean, and one where the two trade off bars. This really is the standout track for me; both Sean and Kanye bring it on this crazy beat.
There’s a good chance that you’ve already heard the next song. Sean’s hit single, “I Don’t F*** With You” featuring E-40, still sounds fresh and is still the perfect “I hate my ex” song. Then comes “Play No Games” with Chris Brown on the hook and Ty Dolla $ign singing a bridge. The song is very enjoyable and has somewhat of a summer vibe to it. The version of “Paradise” that is on this album has an extra verse that Sean goes off on. Although the original was already crazy, he makes it even better with the extension. I love the beat on this track; it’s so eerie and hard-hitting.
“Win Some, Lose Some,” has two verses; the first written in 2012 and the second written in 2014. This song isn’t anything special, but it’s enjoyable. The following, “Stay Down,” is the low-point of this album. The uninspired hook and subpar lyrics drag the track down. Jhené Aiko comes to help pick things up a little bit on “I Know.” It’s better than its predecessor, but still seems to be missing something. The part where Aiko and Sean are singing simultaneously is really nice though. Those three songs were definitely the weakest three. Thankfully, things get better again with the last three tracks.
“Deep” features an impressive verse from Lil Wayne. Sean does well on this track, but Wayne really makes it special. The mood changes on “One Man Can Change The World,” which is dedicated to Sean’s late grandmother who passed away last year. The song has inspiring lyrics, a soft piano instrumental, and features vocals from both Kanye West and John Legend. It’s a very inspirational track that hits home. “Outro” is the perfect ending to this album and is also one of my favorites. This song has the happiest sound of the entire album with a great beat that fits Sean perfectly. It’s almost as if the “dark sky” has cleared, and Sean is now in paradise on this song.
This album definitely isn’t perfect, but it is very enjoyable and Sean’s best so far. I would definitely give it a listen, even if you weren’t a big fan of his first two releases. Sean continues to show improvement and I’m excited to listen to his future releases – hopefully, he won’t have to go through anymore hard times to produce this quality music.