Big Sean’s senior effort comes in the form of a nocturnal-trap record that reaches farther than any of his previous albums, yet still, falls short in comparison to other current artists in the genre.
While this album is definitely Sean’s best effort yet, it is still only decent. The beginning of the record hints at something great on “Intro” and “Light”, commenting on race, relationships, and delayed self-reproach. Throughout the album, Sean narrates in skits as the older version of himself, as he is unhappy with the life he has led. While the melody and beat for “Light” is subtle and catchy, a large majority of the lines in this song are cheesy and forgettable, such as “They can’t take away the light; no matter how much they gon’ shade you.”
As a whole, the album does strive for a deeper meaning than his last three records. While I was disappointed in the lack of social commentary that I thought I was going to get out of this album, I am pleasantly surprised at how Big Sean picks apart his relationships with women, as well as his relationship with his mom. The skits at the end of a few of the songs provide additional examples of Big Sean neglecting his mother, or his relationships with various women.
Other than that, the album does not deliver on some of the promises hinted in the first two tracks. Like I said above, the first two tracks hint at comments on race and self-reproach, but the whole first half of the album does not delve into either of these issues. In fact, the majority of the album is dedicated to dissecting Sean’s relationship with Jhene Aiko, as well as some of his past failed relationships. This is evident on “Jump Out the Window”, “Moves”, “Owe Me”, and “Halfway off the Balcony”. Out of these tracks, “Owe Me” is definitely the standout, as it picks apart a failed relationship that Sean keeps falling back into. The track has a simple melody and is catchy and deeper than most of Sean’s previous work.
Other standout tracks on the album include “Bounce Back”, “Voices in my Head/Stick to the Plan”, and “Sacrifices” ft. Migos. Migos’ feature on this album is actually good, and I am not generally a Migos fan. Their style does not overshadow Big Sean’s flows on the track, instead meshing pretty well overall. “Bounce Back” will be the track that people remember off of this album, and it is definitely one of Sean’s best tracks yet. “Voices in my Head/Stick to the Plan” is a decent, dark nocturnal track that shows the beginning of Sean’s self-reproach in this album, but the transition between the different sections of the song is sloppy and comes out of left field. However, the last verse is amazing.
Now, there were some not-so-great tracks on this album. Among them were “No Favors” ft. Eminem, “Sunday Morning Jetpack” and “Halfway Off the Balcony”. It has to be addressed, but Eminem’s feature on this album did not fit with the overall vibe of the album. Also, Eminem’s verses on this track do not match the message of the rest of the album. Holistically, while the track is not half bad, it seems out of place.
The main flaw of this album is that it does not innovate in any way. As I was listening to this album, many of my friends did not notice that these were newer songs by Big Sean. The album comes across as a slight Drake emulation, with very few instances where Big Sean’s vocal style shines through.
In the end, this is Big Sean’s best album by far, but that does not really say much.