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Big Sean’s ‘Hall of Fame’

Dan Brombach | Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let me start by saying “Hall of Fame,” the sophomore effort by rapper Big Sean, certainly does not belong in a hall of fame, museum or any other miscellaneous institution honoring items of distinguished quality. In fact, the album may be more appropriately placed on the trophy/prize shelf of a Chuck ‘E Cheese or in the bargain bin of a foreclosed Radio Shack.
That may be a little too harsh, but “Hall of Fame” is, at best, remarkably average. It didn’t approach “Fukushima Daiichi” or “Miley Cyrus at the VMAs” levels on the scale of musical events that make you fear for the future of mankind, but I found it to be incredibly disappointing nonetheless, especially considering the high expectations I had carried in from his classic first album, “Finally Famous.”
“Hall of Fame” is not without its bright spots. “Beware” is undoubtedly my favorite song from the album, catchily outlining the dangers of dealing with a girl who won’t move on from a relationship (although I doubt the relationship in question was ever Disney channel material to begin with). “Switch Up” is a strong offering featuring some high quality bars from Common, and “Fire” will likely get stuck in your head despite the repetitive nature of the hook.
However, it is the song “MILF” that ties together everything Big Sean has to offer. It isn’t the best song on the album, but it may be the only track to prominently showcase everything that made Big Sean famous in the first place: Word play, a catchy hook, creative sampling and wildly irreverent lyrics. With a title like that, I definitely didn’t listen to this track expecting to laugh, but that’s exactly what ended up happening.
Now, it’s time for the low-lights of the album. Many of the tracks are either forgettable or just plain bad. Big Sean’s flow feels disjointed at times, falling off beats characterized by too much repetition or not enough creativity. In “10 2 10,” he even insists on half rapping, half singing/whining off tune while delivering the pleasantly racist line, “I woke up working like a Mexican / that mean I work from 10 to 10.”
He somehow even managed to ruin an Ellie Goulding sample in his song, “You Don’t Know,” thus stomping on one of my three main pleasures in life: Goulding’s music. The other two are Chipotle and strategically avoiding eye contact with people during my walks to and from DeBartolo Hall.
Ultimately, Big Sean strayed too far away from what made his first album great. He swapped his fast flow and fiendishly clever lyrics for attempts at amateur philosophy, mumbling things like “Every minute turns into the longest second, yet never ending” in his song “All Figured Out.”
When not pretending to be a strip club frequenting, snapback wearing Aristotle, Big Sean spends ample time making references to Detroit, his hometown. I find this not only annoying, but confusing as well. Being from Detroit isn’t usually something people flaunt. In fact, it’s something people usually hide or admit only under threat of torture, like owning a Razor scooter as a college student or being a Buffalo Bills fan.
“Hall of Fame” has its diamonds, but so does Somalia, and I don’t plan on traveling there anytime soon. Ok, that’s too harsh again. “Hall of Fame” is simply subpar. If it’s not a sophomore slump, it’s at least a “sophomore showing up to his first day of classes wearing a jean jacket and cargo shorts,” and there’s a good chance most of its tracks won’t make it past the gatekeeper into my iTunes library. Listening to it didn’t make me want to drive away into the night and never come back, but that may be because I don’t have a car and because I’m afraid of the skunk that has been staking out my house.
Here’s my final recommendation: Give “Hall of Fame” a listen out of courtesy, download the highlights and move on with your life. Big Sean can and will rebound. All we can do at this point is wait until he does.
Contact Dan Brombach at
dbrombac@nd.edu