Big Sean - Finally Famous
Record Label: Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Big Sean deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his ‘Finally Famous’ campaign slogan. It’s a phrase he’s made his own since 2008, after he used the title for his 2008 mixtape, his two follow-up mixtapes and now his debut LP. It’s a name that’s served him well, most recently giving him sold out tour stops, successful singles, Adidas commercials and that whole “I’m signed to Kanye West’s record label” thing.
As a rapper in the ‘XXL Freshman’ of hip-hop, Big Sean has embraced such a title and given full life to the new generation of artists. While he often gets lumped together with the Wiz Khalifas of the industry, Sean is more focused, consistent and simply put, talented. Sure, having No I.D. produced a large bulk of the album is one of the perks of being on G.O.O.D. Music, but his work ethic shouldn’t be discounted. He has played countless shows and has built up a rapport of connecting with his fans through social media. Despite the apparent self-indulgence of much of his music, he remains as one of the more grounded and humble new stars in hip-hop.
Finally Famous is a culmination of this focus. It’s a refined version of his discography thus far, highlighting both the best and worst moments leading up to this album’s release. While the drug and party-oriented “High” and “Dance (A$$)” leave room to be desired, Sean hones in on personal trials and triumphs on tracks like the relationship-centric “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and the celebratory “So Much More.” “I Do It” captures the immature bravado we’ve grown to know, while “Don’t Wait for Me” rolls with the more naïve introspection that a 23-year old rapper dropping his debut should have. More importantly, that balance is what keeps this record a debut, versus a third or fourth album from a seasoned emcee.
The guest list on Finally Famous is a marquee event. With production from No I.D., The Neptunes and Exile in tow, Sean enlists the likes of Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, John Legend and Rick Ross for impressive features all around. Cameos in mind, Big Sean never falls behind any of these heavyweights and stays on pace as far as presence and lyrical prowess go. Keeping that in mind, it’s always a little less exciting when an artist is relying on features to carry songs on their debut LP, even though from a retail perspective, the advantages are obvious.
While Sean isn’t going to be hitting any ‘Top 5’ all-time lists any time soon, he remains enjoyable, impressive and consistent. And as far as debut albums go, Big Sean has managed to release just that with Finally Famous – an enjoyable, impressive and consistent record. There isn’t an “album of the year” tag being thrown around, but the album sits comfortably above average in many categories, leaving plenty of years, albums and tours of growth at his disposal. And worst case scenario – it’s a great summer album.
RIYL: Not being a conscious rapper, summer time, saying "Boi" and other adlibs, No I.D.