Somewhere down the line from Finally Famous Volume 2 and Finally Famous Volume 3, Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music signee Big Sean made the jump from an unknown, to an orignator of an overdone punchline scheme, to one of the underground rap scene’s golden boys. Around the time of Drake shouting him out and doing a song with him and his collaborations with underground sensations Mike Posner and Curren$y and his standout verses during G.O.O.D Music’s G.O.O.D Friday gig, Big Sean caught a hold of a certain audience – the rap blogging world, which eventually latched him to the mainstream crowd. Though Big Sean was still underground, it was apparent that he was inevitably going to crossover to the mainstream. Think back to early-2011. Big Sean is still underground. People are still questioning the odd “TI$A” symbol on his hat and the underground crowd is still deeming him as inconsistent. He’s your prototype punchline rapper – hit or miss with a collection of addicting catch phrases – “Boooy“, “I Do it!” being the most prevalent. Think about it – it’s a recipe for mainstream success! My problem is this:
Big Sean was always a work-in-progress. On his first mixtape you can hear his potential, but it doesn’t translate to good music. There’s not many redeeming qualities about it, which is why it’s really never mentioned by fans or brought up by Big Sean himself. On his second mixtape, which is arguably his best, you can clearly see why Big Sean was signed and why the rap game began to mimic his style of rhyme. Though he is incredibly inconsistent on the tape – he’ll have a cycle similar to one great verse, then one bad verse, some of his punchlines will make you raise your head in praise while others will make you bow your head in shame. On his 3rd and most recent (at the time of writing) mixtape, Finally Famous Volume 3, the audience can hear Sean’s progression – it’s extremely evident. It is also evident that he plans to take his music to the mainstream level (hinted at by the hooks and type of production amongst other signals). Though Sean is still inconsistent, we get the feeling that his next mixtape will be great. The talent is there. All he needs is another tape and another process to gather his confidence, recognize his progression, and bring it together cohesively to max out his abilities and he’ll be one of the better rappers out – but wait. That next tape never came and that process where he evolves into a greater beast of a lyricist never happened and probably will never happen. Why? Because he got popular seemingly out of left field. From my perspective, Chris Brown is to “blame” for this as Big Sean’s appearances on Chris Brown’s songs is what branched him to that higher level of mainstream audience (as well as Chris Brown’s appearances on his songs i.e. My Last; his appearances on Wiz Khalifa’s Cabin Fever mixtape also contributed to this, in my opinion). Because of this, Chris Brown’s fans have also become Big Sean’s fans, which then grabs Big Sean to the mainstream audience. This affects his progression because:
He’s not going to max out his potential or even become a consistent artist like he was so close to doing. He’s going to reap the benefits of his mainstream success and continue to remain at the level he was at after FF Vol.3. Why? Because it worked.
Big Sean never had “that” mixtape where he comes together as an artist like Drake had with So Far Gone and like Wiz had with KushxOJ where their music hit a peak before they blew up – they’ll never be better than they were on those projects, but they can make music at the level of those projects because they maximized their potential and found a consistency in their music that Big Sean has not found yet. Big Sean never got passed the “inconsistent” stage because he didn’t get the chance to release the project where everything comes together for him. He went from inconsistent to popular. Their’s no middleground and as an artist, Big Sean will likely suffer from it. Big Sean blew up too quickly in my opinion.
Only time will tell.