Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Big Sean is on Another Level With 'Dark Sky Paradise'

I've always felt like a closeted Big Sean fan. I love the vast majority of his features, which is difficult to say for most artists. But on his solo projects, I disliked them as a whole. He seemed to rely more on singles and featured artists, and the albums didn't feel like they could be listened to in any setting past a club. I always hoped that Sean would make a great album, so my faith would be more concrete. And with Dark Sky Paradise, Sean stepped his game up more than I ever thought.

Dark Sky is Sean's first Number 1 album, with first week sales of 167,000. He had a lot in his personal life to build up this album. His last album, Hall of Fame was met with lackluster support, he called off his marriage with Naya Riveria, and his grandmother passed away. Sean uses this as fuel for his album. The first track, "Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)" serves as a basic intro to the album, but isn't extremely memorable. The next three tracks are some of the best. "Blessings" is a dark single with Drake, that sounds radio-friendly yet not poppy. The next song "All Your Fault", featuring Kanye West is just a fun bouncy song with great verses from both artists. And the fourth track is the now infamous "I Don't F*ck With You", the best break-up anthem of all time. The middle of the album is more sparse with the features, and showcases Sean getting more in touch with his past, especially with relationships. Two standout tracks are "Paradise" and "I Know". The former is one of the best songs on the whole album, with Sean just going in over a beat by Mike WiLL Made-It. The latter has Sean and Jhene Aiko speaking about a failing relationship, with production from DJ Mustard, that is mostly just sparse, deep bass. The ending tracks feature a touching ode to his passed grandma with aide from Kanye West and John Legend on the chorus entitled "One Man Can Change The World", and the "Outro" has probably the best production on the album, courtesy of DJ Dahi.

The list of features on Dark Sky is A+. Kanye West, E-40, Drake, John Legend, Ariana Grande, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Chris Brown, Jhene Aiko, and Ty Dolla $ign all lend vocals. And while this list is large, no song seems cluttered, and Big Sean holds his own, and usually shines above the other artists. The only artist on here that Sean can't match bar-for-bar is probably Kanye. Production isn't extremely diverse or fantastic on this LP. But the darker sounds serve more of a platform for Sean, and instead of being ear-catching, the production focuses on Sean's vocals. What Sean is rapping about isn't Earth-shattering, but they are more mature. Sean's raps are more personal, and sound more like an open diary then Sean rapping for his audience, which I think is a plus. But what really shines through is his technical skill. On each song, Sean uses about three to four flows, and each one sound great. Some of his past flows have sounded like he's gasping for air, but on Dark Sky, Sean is way more confident and refined. I would say this is a must-cop.

Lyrical Skill- 3

Technical Skill- 4.5

Production- 3

Listenability- 4

Features- 5

Consistency/Themes- 3.5

Notable Songs- "All Your Fault", "Blessings", "Paradise", "I Know", "Deserve It"

Overall Rating- 4

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