Big Sean: Dark Sky Paradise

Kanye protégé isn't a great MC yet, but he's getting warmer

Credit: Gomillion and Leupold

Over four years and two albums, Detroit rapper Big Sean has made his biggest mark as a semi-novelty hitmaker (the awesomely stupid "Dance (A$$)," the giddily spiteful "IDFWU") and the worst part of at least five Kanye West songs. Big Sean is G.O.O.D. Music "trying to make 'fetch' happen" — keep supporting this guy, and maybe eventually he'll turn into a great artist. His third and best record isn't that moment yet, but he's one step closer. Sean's style on Paradise is a potent mix of other rappers' tics: He can do Drake's slow-crawl sadness ("Win Some, Lose Some"), Kanye's mix of politics and puns ("Tryna get that hotel money, but you know those crackers ain't gonna let you get the Ritz"), J. Cole's "I'm really happy to be here" vibe ("blessings on blessings on blessings"), even a little Southern fast-rap (the excellent "Paradise"). He still tries to stuff way too many words into his bars, and his punchline game can be groanworthy ("I guess when your stars align/You do like the solar system and 'plan it' out"). But he's only getting better with time.