It was early September 2014 when we received a whiff of some of the tunes featured on the album. Big Sean uploaded four songs to his SoundCloud, including “I Don’t Fuck With You,” featuring E-40, and produced by Kanye West and DJ Mustard. It was certainly no surprise when Dark Sky Paradise featured two of the four songs. After all, Foot Locker Europe released a commercial featuring “Paradise.”
Several A-listers attended the album listening cover including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Jhené Aiko and Sean’s girlfriend Ariana Grande.
The first song on the album, “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” shares Sean’s struggles from women problems to debt. Yet the song embodies a “look how far I’ve come” mentality. The song sets the mood for the entire album, Sean spitting game about rising to the top. The album drop was accompanied by the song’s music video, further showcasing dark lighting and Sean reflecting on his life.
The album then trickles into several collaborations from big name rappers. While the album is criticized for having one too many collaborations, Sean’s lyrics are on point. When his grandma died at the end of 2014, it clearly took a toll on Big Sean’s heart. “One Man Can Change the World” is a tribute song to his grandma as he recites her impact on his life. As one of the first African-American woman captains in the United States Army, Sean’s grandma constructed his morals that continue to stand with him today.
This week, Sean released the music video for “Blessings,” one of the the top collaborations on his albums. The song not only features Drake, but after dropping the song before the album release, Kanye West threw himself into a remix. It was surprising when the music video featured both Drake and Ye.
Jhené Aiko graces the album with not just one feature, but two songs. Her vocals in “Win Some, Lose Some,” are ghost-like. His lyrics talk about difficult life decisions he made as he reflects on his mistakes and previous relationship. Let’s not forget that Naya Rivera just so happen to also announce the same week of the album’s release, that she is pregnant. In the next Aiko collaboration, both artists share about their relationships.
Here’s a ranking of each song on the album based on what you ideally want to listen to:
- One Man Can Change the World
- I Know
- All your Fault
- Win Some, Lose Some
- Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)
- Play No Games
- Stay Down
- I Don’t Fuck With You
The album showcases Big Sean’s best work so far and the songs come together cohesively to fit the album’s title. He’s come a long way from rapping in front of Kanye West outside of a radio station. He’s forever a Detroit man and takes pride in his city. The day the album dropped, he flew to his hometown and performed for fans. While the album is promising and meets the hype, Big Sean still has more potential to be on that Drake level.
Be sure to cop tickets for J. Cole’s Forest Hills Drive Tour in August at Jiffy Lube Live. You’ll see Big Sean perform his entire album and some of his best hits.
Big Sean has made it and there will surely be more to come.7
Instrumentals score 7
Lyrical Content score 8
Composition score 7