We don’t usually review mixtapes but I feel like Big Sean’s latest release is as good if not better than his debut album from last year. He promised a mixtape soon after his debut which didn’t materialize but after listening to Detroit I can easily forgive him for the wait. He takes a darker approach with this release which goes right along with his G.O.O.D. Music label mates on Cruel Summer. As with other artists in his clique, Big Sean doesn’t restrict himself to only rapping but also sings. His lyrics are up to expectations for the young MC.
Throughout the record are stories from a few veterans in the game including Snoop Lion, formerly know as Young Eggs (you’ll see), about their experiences and first visits to Detroit. They maintain a nostalgic feeling through the record and emphasize that this is a tribute to Big Sean’s home. Let me know what you think of the mixtape. Is this release up to par with his previous work ? Is it better than his debut album?
1. Higher Produced by KeY Wane This is a strong way to start a record. The aggressive but relaxed beat sets the ominous mood for the tape. His lyrics are on point and solidify his confidence in himself and his career.
Man, I made myself a boss and then I gave me a promotion. And I step inside the booth and changed the world like I be voting. So when you step inside my office, treat that bitch like it’s the Oval. El Presidente, Lord Sensei. Do your job. It could be pay your rent day. Getting Riskay. Crazy nigga, they ain’t seen it like this since ‘Ye.”
He speaks about the hardships of his journey to the top of the game. He switches up the rhyme consistently and the meter characteristically. This is solid rap.
2. 24K of Gold Featuring J. Cole; Produced by KeY Wane This is the ballad of the record. It has a strong emotional feel as Big Sean sings the hook wishing for diamonds, pearls, gold and enough money to rule the world. This is the catchiest tune on the mixtape and is bound to be the most popular. This song has a very familiar feel not only among Big Sean’s past work but also among the general hip-hop culture. Most young rappers have a few songs like this, dreaming about success and ways to fix problems in society witnessed from their perspective. Cole wraps up the song with a great third verse. He goes along the same lines as his host, dreaming about success and reminiscing about harder times. He starts it off with one of my most favorite lines on the tape. “Is this a dream? ‘Cause that’s how it feel. Sometimes I got to pinch your fat ass to see if it’s real.”
3. Story by Common This is the first story on the mixtape. Common speaks candidly about his past trips to “the D.”
4. How It Feel Produced by Mano 4 Treated Crew The music for “How It Feel” has a retro tropical resort kind of feel with it’s electric guitar, horns and background singer. It’s essentially a celebration song in honor of his success. More reminiscing about his life before success and of course bragging. Overall it’s a good song.
5. Woke Up Featuring Say It Ain’t Tone, Early Mac, Mike Posner & James Fantleroy; Produced By BP, Young Chop & KeY Wane Big Sean gives thanks to God that he woke up on the hook on this track. He goes on about putting in work as soon as he wakes up and how he feels like the realest. He brags about the trivialities and benefits of success. He also states aspirations like making a hundred million dollars and running away, something most of us dream about I’m sure. Say It Ain’t Tone has a mediocre verse on the track but Early Mac wraps it up nicely with the last verse. He also thanks God for his success.
6. Experimental Featuring Juicy J & King Chip; Produced By Rami & Dez For his drug ballad, Big Sean wisely enlisted veteran Juicy J to start it off. The beat is solid and has a very trippy and mysterious sound. As expected they rap about drugs and women. This is one of my favorites.
7. Mula Featuring French Montana; Produced By Young Chop Young Chop produced a great track for the tape in his characteristically grandiose style. Big Sean and French Montana both have good verses and seem to have their priorities in similar order, their first being money. The hook is based around a statement that most of their contemporaries agree with; “Ain’t nothing more important than the mula!”
8. Story by Young Jeezy Jeezy talks about his first time in Detroit for a show.
9. 100 Featuring Royce Da 5’9 & Kendrick Lamar; Produced By Don Cannon Big Sean slows it down a little on “100.” The somber beat matches the lyrics. Royce Da 5’9 and Kendrick Lamar join Big Sean in speaking about the fragility of life and how it can end at any moment. They state things they’d like to accomplish before death.
As I look up to the sky, thought about a 100 things to do before I die. Hit all the girls I want and make sure my niggas right and my family live that life. As I look up to the sky thought about a 100 things to do before I die. Wonderin’ if I could live it all in one life ‘cause it could all end in one night.
10. Sellin Dreams Featuring Chris Brown; Produced By Da Internz Since meeting him, Big Sean hasn’t released a record without a feature from Chris Brown. Big speaks his argument to a women while his guest sings the emotionally driven hook over a bed of classical music. This song reminds me of “Almost Wrote You a Love Song” from Big Sean’s last mixtape, Finally Famous Vol. 3. It’s essentially a breakup song.
11. I’m Gonna Be Featuring Jhene Aiko; Produced By KeY Wane The next track is more upbeat and positive. Big sing/raps this song along with Jhene Aiko to a happy tune played on the piano. This song is very simple and relaxed promoting positive thinking. “I’m gonna be everything I wanna be so I’m gonna be what I wanna be. Say, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be, I’m I’m gonna be.”
12. FFOE Produced By Lex Luger The track title stands for Finally Famous Over Everything, something we’ve heard from Sean many times. He sings the hook over an aggressive beat. He raps about aspirations, he brags, and generally raps about ridin’ around and gettin’ it. Good song but repetitive.
13. Do What I Gotta Do Featuring Tyga, Produced By Million $ Mano, The Olympicks & Rob Kinelski This is the weak link on the tape. Worth skipping.
14. Story by Snoop Lion Snoop talks about living with his pops in cold Detroit as a child. He speaks about how he worked at McDonald’s and was called “Young Eggs.” He believes his time in the D helped to shape and mold who he is today.
15. RWT Produced By Southside Without looking at the credits I knew this beat was straight from the Brick Squad. Big wisely looked to Southside to do trap music. Not bad.
16. Once Bitten, Twice Shy Produced By Hit Boy Another sentimental song about past hardships and hard work. Nothing special.
17. Life Should Go On Featuring Wale; Produced By KeY Wane The mixtape concludes with a bright melodic bonus track. It’s a good song where he summarizes parts of his career and happily sings: “This is how life should go. Everything I wanted never seemed so close. Good people, good drinks, good smokes. Got me thinking this is how life should go.”
Bottom Line: This mixtape is definitely front loaded with the last third being mediocre. It’s a solid effort from the G.O.O.D. Music artist that I find to be comparable to his debut album. This is great music especially considering the fact that he gave it to us for free. I think this tape is a sign that Big Sean won’t be just a one hit wonder, that he can consistently produce great music. His second studio album is expected in December so hopefully this is just an appetizer for what’s to come later this year.