Big Sean’s back, and it’s surprisingly good

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Detroit 2 is the latest effort from a generational force in rap: Big Sean. Its an album which demonstrates a significant move in a more pensive direction, demonstrating some of the Detroit-born rapper’s most insightful lyricism yet.

On first listen, the album is a homage to the city from which he hails; featuring story-telling elements from Stevie Wonder, who ponders his upbringing in West Detroit. At its heart however, Detroit 2 is an album about Big Sean himself. His most emotionally candid yet, the album dances around his struggles with mental health in the past decade. ‘Everything That’s Missing’, assisted by Detroit-born Dwele, is a reflection on all that one lacks, despite having achieved objective success and infamy. Drawing on the concept of ‘home’ as an outlet for nostalgia, Detroit becomes a vehicle for reflection.

Alongside the album being so sure in its storytelling and lyrical potency, it doesn’t compromise on production. Released by Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, the album rarely misses in terms of its delivery. ‘Wolves’, featuring Post Malone, is a memorable track, which is effortlessly carried by an infectious hook and trap-style beat.
Weaknesses on the album show in the form of tracks like ‘The Baddest’, which despite an upbeat production, seems vapid in comparison to the rest of the album, lacking the depth seen until that point.

In spite of this Detroit 2 gives listeners more to chew on than any Big Sean project to have come before; its creative, introspective and largely composed of glisteningly produced tracks, accompanied with an expansive guest-list of his contemporaries. ‘Still I Rise’ featuring Dom Kennedy closes the album in celebration, a mammoth track, celebrating both the wins and the losses. “I’m just gonna leave it right there” closes an album with a humility which Detroit 2 hardly deserves.

Image: Vivien Killilea via Getty Images

By Erin May Kelly

Featured Contributor