Big Sean wasn’t satisfied. After his sophomore album, Hall of Fame, landed with a thud back in 2013, the Detroit rapper was at a semi-crossroads in his career. With his relative failure renewing his focus, Sean attempted to invest more of himself than ever into his next project. That project is Dark Sky Paradise, and Sean spoke to rolling out about why this album is so important for him at this stage of his career. His “IDFWU” became an unexpected pop smash and he’s in a high-profile relationship with singer Ariana Grande, and the G.O.O.D. Music rapper says that this was the first time that he entered the studio guided by his own instincts, as opposed to being too swayed by outside influences.
“I just was always getting guided because I didn’t have experience,” Sean explains. “[When] I did my first album, which I love and my second album, which I love—I was still figuring everything out. I still am now, but I feel like I have way more experience. I’ve been around the block a couple of times. I’ve seen the ups and downs of things. It made me a better person and a better artist.”
“I just know I took a lot of aggression out on this album,” he continues. “Not necessarily what I was talking about, sometimes just the emotion and conviction that I would put into a song. Songs like ‘Paradise’ were real therapeutic for me, just the intensity of the track. I just know that this is a project where I put my heart into it. I believe in it and a stand behind it 100 percent. This is my best work so far.”
With the smash success of his E-40-assisted single “IDFWU,” Sean made it clear that he wasn’t going anywhere despite the lackluster reception for … Fame and he drew a lot of attention for the spiteful lyrics. But he attributes its success to the people getting what they want.
“It was never intended to be a radio song. It was just a feeling. The chorus has got way too much cussing in it. ‘I don’t give a f—, I don’t give a f—’ It’s just ridiculous. But it was still a top 40 record. It just shows that the people can control the radio. It’s getting to a point again where radio has to play what’s hot in the streets. We’ve seen that with Rae Sremmurd, we’ve seen that with Dej Loaf; [there are] a lot of examples in the past year. And I think that’s awesome.”
And Sean says having hip-hop legend E-40 on the track was a no-brainer.
“40 is one of my favorite rappers since I was eight or nine years old,” he shares. “I feel like his ability is just insane. It was a dream come true to have him on there. I met him back in 2011 and when I met him he was always cool. So, as soon as I got that track, I immediately thought of 40. I had it for a while and then I finally finished it up. I dropped that and three other songs and it just started going. It feels good to have E-40 on the radio like that — on a platinum single. He was appreciative of it and I was appreciative of him.”
Coming off the first major failure of his career and a high-profile split with a TV star, Big Sean seems to have recovered nicely. A hit single, new album and pop superstar girlfriend aren’t a bad way to kick off a new phase in one’s life and career, and Sean says he knows what to keep his eye on these days.
“I’m more mature and way more focused than I’ve ever been,” he says. “I have a clearly vision than I’ve ever had. I realize happiness is all that matters. That and family. I believe in karma and I believe in God. I see things a little different now and I’m happy to be there. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go since I got on in the game a few years ago. It feels good to not just be in it, but to still be on the come-up; still rising. I’m 100 percent dedicated. I can’t even show how dedicated I am. I’ve sacrificed so much. I lay it all out there and I’m a real artist. I put my privacy on the line in this music for the sake of entertainment and I hope people enjoy it and can relate to it. I intend to keep going and staying happy and staying focused and repping for Detroit and repping for a generation.”