by Andrew Katsiris
I have never listened to a Big Sean album from beginning to end, nor have I ever purchased an album of his. To be quite honest, I have only listened to Big Sean when he is featured on a track by Kanye West, Drake, etc. That is, until “Dark Sky Paradise” was available for preorder on iTunes. And I think it was worth preordering.
Granted, that’s not what I thought in the weeks leading up to the album’s release. Initially, the only track available for download was the single by the name of “I Don’t F*** With You,” featuring E-40. Right off the bat, I wasn’t happy with it, and for one reason: I cannot stand E-40. When G-Eazy released his debut album, “These Things Happen,” one of my favorite songs (“Far Alone”) had an E-40 feature; in a nutshell, he ruined the song for me. He threw down a verse on the first single off of “Dark Sky Paradise,” and ruined it as well. Aside from the nonsense beat (a DJ Mustard signature), the song played its part well, as a post-breakup song for Sean’s male fan base.
His second single, “Blessings” featuring Drake, gave a hint that the album would address more mature topics than telling off one’s ex. Drake drops a verse, as well as the hook on this song, which I thought was…decent. Not bad, but I could’ve been done better. The track was met with positive reviews, and a second version was released by DJ Skee, with an additional Kanye West verse. Although only 30 seconds, the Yeezy feature was praised by fans everywhere (I was not one of them). The second version never found its way to the album, which in my eyes is not a total loss. But after hearing the features in the first two singles, I was beginning to feel skeptical about the upcoming album. However, I was worried for nothing.
While the act of releasing a single or two from your unreleased album to build hype for said project is not a method pioneered by Big Sean, it was a method he executed perfectly. “I Don’t F*** With You” and “Blessings” are not the best tracks on the album, not by a long shot. While they touched base with the childish, break-up topic and the cocky, “we’re better than you” topic, the album starts off on the right foot. “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” provides an introspective look into the life of Sean, with an instrumental that pulls the entire track together. And it’s only the beginning.
Track 3 gives us the second collaboration between Big Sean and Kanye West, “All Your Fault.” Hard drums, soul-style samples, Kanye singing the bridge, and an uplifting hook is what makes up the recipe for one of my favorite tracks on this album. It works beautifully, and the third verse even has Sean and Kanye swapping lines, reminiscent of the Kanye West/Jay Z collaborative album, “Watch The Throne.” I couldn’t help but want to listen to it again before moving on to the next track.
All in all, the album is a quality piece of work. With features by Jhene Aiko, Ariana Grande, Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye, and more, there is no shortage of talent. Am I glad I pre-ordered “Dark Sky Paradise” on iTunes? Absolutely. Do I recommend it? No question about it.
My favorite tracks (and in my mind, most noteworthy) were “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers),” “All Your Fault,” and “One Man Can Change the World.”
Find out more about Big Sean’s new album at his website!
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