The period since the release of Lil Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter III’ in 2006 has been an interesting time for mainstream Hip-Hop. With Wayne’s increasingly non-sensical lyrical narrative and weird public appearances forming the basis for him to become the punch-line of many a rap critic’s wit, radio-friendly Hip-Hop has been allowed to evolve and emerge in his image while seemingly leaving him behind.
Many now find themselves the target of a somewhat inter-generational meme war, whether it be Kanye West or Drake, but the unfortunate heir to Lil Wayne’s maligned throne is most consistently Detroit MC Big Sean.
For the past few years making a case for Big Sean for anyone’s whose love of hip-hop goes beyond trashy strip bars and clubs seems to have been a thankless task. He has solidified himself as one of the most unimaginative and down-right corniest lyricists in the game, opting for cliché after cliché over a heavy- set Drake-esque canopy of groaning, bass-centric trap beats.
Big Sean’s awkwardness on the mic has mattered little to his fans but is a heresy to the blogosphere.
I Decided, his fourth full-length, sees little in the way of a shake-up sonically, but there are glimpses between the cracks that Big Sean has upped his game. He doesn’t sound as distinctly uncomfortable as he used to, and a new dedication to rapid-fire spitting actually comes off pretty well on the likes of “Bounce Back” and he sounds genuinely energized on “No Favours”. “Intro” provides an ethereal, sunken back bone for a spoken-word sample which, as the track rolls into the beat-less and pleasingly melodic “Light” hints at newly dextrous and introspective Big Sean.
But unfortunately, any moments of real promise on I Decided are predictably levelled out by Big Sean’s inability to shake what has always plagued him.
Despite “Light’’s seemingly positive persuasion, Big Sean still comes across as being nowhere near emotive enough to inspire anything. The tangible addressing of vulnerability on “Jump Out the Window” is ruined by a drab piano melody and shallow, half-arsed references to Mario Kart and The Weeknd, and tracks like “Owe Me”, “Moves” and “Halfway Off the Balcony” prove just how regressive and forgettable he is as an MC.
“Voices in My Head: Stick to The Plan” offers another hint of deep personality but his delivery is (for the most part) unimaginably grating, and as touching as “Inspire Me” could have been, lyrics about his mum reminding him to take his vitamins via text and degrees in communications just aren’t going to tug at the heart-strings.
There are a couple of highlights late on; “Sunday Morning Jetpack” hints at real poeticism over a life-affirming, technicoloured beat and closer “Bigger Than Me”, which reflects and represents Big Sean’s cultural achievements in Detroit and charitable impulses is one of the few moments that comes off as truly heartfelt. “I Decided” certainly contains a handful of steps in the right direction, but they’re still too few and far between to hint that Big Sean might be on the cusp of releasing something profound or interesting.