Big Sean connects with personal side in ‘I Decided’

“I Decided” is rapper Big Sean’s fourth studio album and 2017’s first highly anticipated project of the year. Alongside Drake’s “More Life” album, “I Decided” climbed its way to the top of charts, pushing Big Sean into the fray of today’s elite performing artists. The project is a different story and approach on the life of the Detroit rapper. Instead of his tough mentality, “I Decided” takes a softer approach. It focuses on his relationships, like with his mother. The track “Inspire Me” is about the route that his mom has put him on, about how she’s put him on a rightful path of success and helped him get to where he is today. 

Big Sean has come a long way from his first “hit” song “IDFWY” and album “Dark Sky Paradise.” “I Decided” is a deep dive into the psychological first person view of his career and what he’s made of his life so far and how he’s handled the spotlight and the relationships that come with it. 

“Light” is about the social injustice, racism and life’s struggles in the big city. Sean makes several references to his upcoming and recruitment from Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music. “Light” begins with the old Sean being hit by a car and seeing the light — get the reference? The song’s lyrics begin with what he’s learned from the beginning of his career, and what he wishes he could’ve done better. It’s a reflection of what he should’ve done.

“Bounce Back” was released back in the end of October as a promotional item for the album, but it really didn’t catch on until late December early January. “Bounce Back” is a self-promoting track on Sean’s work ethic, as well as his career in the sense he hasn’t always had success and had to “Bounce Back.” The beat on the track that was produced by Metro Boomin is one of his best on the album, and that’s saying something considering some of the other tracks. “Bounce Back” also has one of my all time favorite hooks. The comparisons that he makes between his broke life and his life with newfound fame is surprisingly great considering Sean’s skillset mostly in his verse lyrics.

“No Favors (feat. Eminem)” is the money maker so-to-speak on the album. Sean takes the first half with a metaphor-heavy narrative on how life has been changed and rearranged. He reflects on problems like racism in the country: the Flint water crisis and his relationship with God and how it’s helped him on his road to stardom, although, when reading through the lyrics, it sounds preachy and a tad bit overdone.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love the song, but it’s Eminem who really delivers on the track. Like the changing of the guard, Eminem seems to come out of the abyss to the omniscient and low beat track. Eminem starts slow and gradually picks up speed until he’s shouting passion into your ear drums. Most of the verse is comprised with relevant adjectives one word after another, Eminem still goes hard. Eminem’s verse is very contradicting to Big Sean’s verse and virtually the whole album. On paper, “No Favors” should be one of the worst concept songs on the album, but both Detroit artists flow and viscosity of language make the song aesthetically one of I decided best.

“Jump Out the Window”  is my favorite song on the album. Hands down. There’s just something aesthetically pleasing about this song. The intertwining of Sean’s vocals and the beat, I personally think is unmatched on the album. Then there’s that patterned switch that’s in every song on “I Decided.” It goes from a rocky stormy day on the Atlantic to smooth cruising through the tropical Pacific.

The lyrics are another story. “Jump out the Window” is a story about saving someone from an abusive relationship, hence the hook, “I think I might jump out the window and turn him right back into your friend, though.” The story hits home with Sean and begins the narrative of a love lost story. The nostalgic factor for Sean is a major driving force for the lyrical sense of the song. The song takes a third person perspective of watching an abusive relationship and does really well at it. It’s a tale that starts the theme of remorse for not loving enough.

“Owe Me,” at first, was one of my least favorite songs on the album. It didn’t strike until my third or fourth listen and took me to realize what the lyrics were saying to fully appreciate the track. It starts out as almost a diss track for his unnamed ex. He explains how she ruined the relationship and the love that was lost between the two.

Then comes the second half, which is bi-polar compared to the first. Big Sean realizes that he made mistakes, and to the dismay of the many around him, he’s willing to give it another shot. I think that this speaks to a lot of people who listen to the track. I feel that most everyone has gone through these same patches after severed ties: from anger to relief, to nostalgia, to acceptance and maybe anger again. Whether you decide to forgive and try again is fate, but to make it work is a matter of patience and forgiveness.

“Halfway Off the Balcony” is a track that one may think, mainly because of it’s name, is about suicide. But you’re wrong. Big Sean wants to promote the important things in life. It continues the thought storyline of an Older Sean overlooking and reviewing the events that have unfolded in his life. Like the other songs on the album, the beat changes and so does his mindset. He goes to a more self-promotional flick than a nostalgic one. It produces some great rhymes and gives us a look into how Sean thinks.

It’s a good song, but not what I expected so deep into the album. “HOTB” is more aesthetically pleasing than sentimental. It’s one of the least backstory driven songs on the album. Mostly because it was a pre-release song and more of a promotional item. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a great song (one of my personal favorites), it just doesn’t deliver on the provocative level like some of the others.

“Voices in My Head” Is about self-doubt and a lack a self-confidence that you may deal with. It constantly reiterates about what one could’ve done better. And personally, that really strikes home for me. The first part of the song offers a look into the psyche of himself, how he doesn’t let himself succeed because he thinks he could always do better. Part two is about focusing in. Realizing his skill and success. He realizes as long as he focuses, his skill and talent won’t let him down.

As the beat gets faster, Sean’s ego and confidence grow. It adds a different aspect to the album and proves why Big Sean skill set is so varied.

“Inspire Me” is the most uplifting song on the album. It’s about his special relationship with his mom that not a lot of people in the game can experience. It’s a special song that Sean put on the album just for his mom. It’s a song that makes you want to call your parents after listening and thank them for everything they’ve done for you. It’s really a special track that I haven’t really ever heard, except for maybe a J Cole song or two. It finalizes a great story and transformation for the album, really making “I Decided” one of the best of the year and cementing its place in rap history.

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