Big Sean’s Love Letter To Detroit


Big Sean album cover for Detroit 2

Kanye protege and famed Detroit rapper, Big Sean, is back with his superstar-filled big-budget fifth studio album “Detroit 2.”

“Detroit 2” is actually the sequel to his 2012 mixtape “Detroit,” and just like it’s predecessor, it’s very community-based and showcases Detroit in a variety of ways, from personal stories to hometown references.

“And they want me to stop but why would I stop? Huh? I am unstoppable..” Sean triumphantly raps as he sets the pace of this album on the first track, “Why would I stop?”  On the aforementioned track, Sean eloquently sets the pace of this album by indirectly talking about how he somehow has always managed to retain relevance and all the success he’s seen since signing with Kanye’s label in 2007. While also talking about how he’s now proven himself to be an unstoppable force in the rap game, at this stage in his career while talking about the accolades he’s achieved thus far. Even when he’s not hard at work on a project, Sean has become a go-to feature for industry giants like Drake, YG, and his lover and frequent collaborator, Jhené Aiko. 

While always being at the forefront of the game has surely benefited Sean, he has always been able to get a star-studded list of features for whatever project, he hasn’t taken advantage of ridiculously big features since he was murdered on his own song “Control” by the one and only Kung Fu Kenny AKA Kendrick Lamar. 

This is what makes this project so surprising, as Sean has added more features than ever before on this album. The project is much longer than normal, as it runs with 21 songs, although it’s really more like 18  tracks and three stories by Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, and Stevie Wonder respectively, and includes features from stars all over. Including Travis Scott, Post Malone, Young Thug, Lil Wayne, and even the late Nipsey Hussle.

I undoubtedly think Sean was given a bigger budget than ever before to execute this project, and it shows. The production plays a huge part in this project’s success, as the producer list is just as astonishing as the feature list, featuring numerous hard-hitting yet elegant beats from industry greats like Hit-Boy, Take a Daytrip, Mike-Will, and NO-ID. 

The pairing of high profile guests and high profile producers would make any average rapper seem great. However, for a person with the talent of Big Sean, who seems hungrier than ever and is noticeably different in technical skill from cadences to flows, to rhyme schemes, the attention to production makes a project amazing. 

Standout Tracks like “Wolves” featuring Post Malone and “Lithuania” featuring Travis Scott are two examples of that winning formula, as Sean shines on both of these tracks that could easily be played in any club, party or be heard booming out of some young teenager’s car. 

“Lithuania” in particular is one of the more dazzling tracks of the year, as progressive psychedelic rapper Travis Scott brings his world to Detroit, and the results are mind-blowing, as the first half of the track features typical Travis crooning on the obviously more psychedelic inspired beat, and Sean coming in on the latter half to finish it off on a traditional trap beat.

Although as a whole this project is authentically very Detroit, from the murderous piano beats Detroit has become famous for in recent years, to the vibes it gives, but what makes this project more special are the first-person stories given by Dave Chappelle and Stevie Wonder.  

However, the peak level of pride that Sean has in Detroit manifests itself in “Friday Night Cypher” which showcases both new and old Detroit talent, with enough guests on it to make an album in its entirety features 10 Detroit rappers, and sits at close to 10 minutes in run time.

On the song, we see new and old Detroit clash and try to out-rap each other on a song that features so many beat switches it would make a Kanye album jealous.

Personally, I feel like the best verse could go to either Big Sean, Sada Baby, Royce da 5’9” or “slim shady” himself, Eminem, who saw an unlikely return to form being both the last verse on the song and the oldest on the song.

All in all, I believe that this might actually be Sean’s most solid project yet. However, Sean still couldn’t help himself and use the occasional corny lines he’s become so well known for, and not to mention his overall tone-deafness on numerous social topics created is problematic in itself. Ultimately the pairing of these two problems along with the ridiculously long track listing results in dumpster fire tracks like  “Still I Rise” and “The Baddest” among others.

But what makes this project really shine is the level of community engagement and city pride that Sean gives off throughout the project. It’s effective enough that it actually reminds me a lot of Chicago culture.

For example when Sean raps about the violence that happens in his city that is broadcasted in the media while also managing to weave in these stories that showcases the beauty that Detroit has, and actually reminds me of the rest of the country’s view of Chicago.

Although we may have violent disagreements from time to time, mainstream media frequently highlights all the bad aspects that Chicago displays, people who really live in the city or spend a lot of time there, often think that Chicago is one of the best if not the best city in the world. 

Because although we may go through terrible events, each and every one of Chicago’s residents are in it together and are ultimately connected in the end. And surprisingly Sean manages to give that idea about connectivity and community to the masses on this project.