.

Big Sean on Kanye, Threesomes, and His 'Classic' New LP

Detroit rapper drops 'Hall of Fame' on August 27th

August 9, 2013 11:00 AM ET
Big Sean performs in London.
Big Sean performs in London.
Joseph Okpako/Getty Images

When he released his debut album, Finally Famous, in 2011, Big Sean was still searching for artistic direction. "I wasn't all the way comfortable in my skin," he says, checking in with Rolling Stone from L.A. on a recent afternoon. "I was really just finding who I was as an artist."

Since then, the 25-year-old rapper born Sean Anderson has been, well, everywhere: his debut's raunchy, booty-praising single "Dance A$$" cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100; Sean featured heavily on last year's G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Cruel Summer including turns on standout cuts "Mercy" and "Clique"; and he greatly  increased his mainstream appeal with a guest spot on Justin Bieber's mega-smash single "As Long as You Love Me."

"People started to see more of my maturity and more control over my artistry, my flow," he says of the past two years, which also included the release of his own Detroit mixtape last year. "This is just a more controlled Sean," he adds of his current self.

Now the Detroit-bred MC's full attention is on his forthcoming second album, Hall of Fame, due on August 27th. Recorded primarily with legendary hip-hop producer No I.D. (Kanye West, Jay Z) and his childhood friend-turned-producer, Key Wane, Sean contends the album is a "classic." He catches himself mid-sentence. "But I don't want to hype it up too much or anything," he says. "People hear 'classic' and they expect like Jesus Christ to be on there rapping. What I mean by 'classic' is it's a pure body of work; there's quality songs."

West first discovered Sean outside Detroit radio station 102.7 FM, in 2005 and eventually signed Sean to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint. West still remains highly active in Big Sean's career: He periodically popped into recording sessions for Hall of Fame and offered suggestions. He even gave Sean the beat for his most recent single, "Fire." ("'You should use this beat. It sounds like classic Big Sean,'" he recalls West saying.)

Where Finally Famous was stocked with features, Sean says he purposefully limited the number of guests this go-round. "I have some very important ones, of course," he says, mentioning un-credited vocal assistance from Pharrell Williams on"Nothing Is Stopping You" and official turns from Nas ("First Chain") and Nicki Minaj ("MILF"). The latter track, which details the struggles of a child dealing with his mother's boyfriends, is one Sean feels passionate about (despite the absurd title).

"It’s a thing in society that is so relevant," he says. "You bump into situations where your momma had a boyfriend or maybe you're fucking a girl who's a mom and her kids had disagreements with you. It's an issue in America."

It's not the only song that showcases Sean's more serious side. On "World Ablaze," featuring instrumental accompaniment from session wizard James Fauntleroy, Sean raps about providing words of comfort to the ill (yes, really!). "Sometimes no matter how sick somebody is or how fucked up something is you have to tell them they're gonna be all right. Sometimes it isn't [true] but the most important thing is you have to tell them things are gonna be OK."

Fear not, Big Sean fans partial to the rapper's more loose, comic material; there's plenty to work with on the new LP. "There are songs on there for those Big Sean fans who do just love that super ignorant shit," he explains. Take "Mona Lisa," for example. The track, Sean says, is his definitive "threesome" song. "I feel like a threesome is an important part of life," he contends. “Something you've got to experience before you die." And how would his girlfriend, Glee's Naya Rivera, feel about this statement? "I don't know if my girl would agree," he says, laughing. A few minutes later, he drives home this point. "I know my girl wouldn't do that!"

Sean now calls Los Angeles home, but he still reps hard for the Motor City. It was there he grew up in a two-bedroom flat worshipping fellow D-town rapper, Eminem, and buying his albums at the local Costco. This past year things came full circle: Sean bought his mother a new house in Detroit and even spent a 12-hour-plus day the studio with his childhood idol.

"That was probably one of the best days of my life," he says of meeting Eminem. "Not only because I met Em and we talked and exchanged stories, but because not only was I playing him my music but he was just so enthusiastic about it and loved it. He was rapping my lines back to me." Sean was hoping Eminem would hop on his album, but the rapper was too busy working on his next solo effort. Says Sean: "I'm sure you guys will get a Big Sean-Eminem collaboration sooner or later."

In fact, the MC isn't worried about much these days. "It's better than any type of sex you could have, any weed you could smoke, better than whatever the fuck you can think of," he says of his blossoming rap-career. "It's the shit, for real!"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com