Big Sean’s biggest work to date
Meghan Cleary | Monday, March 2, 2015
Big Sean’s “Dark Sky Paradise” can be consecrated as one of his best works to date.
The album’s strengths are emphasized by its phenomenal features, while its weaknesses remain well-masked by those same sidekicks. With names such as Drake, Jhené Aiko and Kanye West, Big Sean was aided in putting out a project that resulted in the hype its bar was set for. “Dark Sky Paradise” is an album that, although at times incongruous, certainly has consistency in its likelihood to get your mood and morale set for the day.
The tracks setting the tone for the album allude to concepts seen throughout, be it tempo, lyric or overall sound. “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” sets the tone for the album’s message with lyrics, “I got a lot on my mind, I got more in my face / If I ain’t going to get it, that day is going to waste.” The track emphasizes the idea that Big Sean now sits at the top thanks to his hard work.
“Blessings” features Drake and continues to propel this message by emphasizing Big Sean’s motivation, implying that his motivation is to transfer his success into his loved ones’ lives. Both Big Sean and Drake bring verses appropriate to the feel of this track. Although at times the beat can sound mildly sporadic as if it is being fast-forwarded, it is countered by moments of somber silence.
“All Your Fault” featuring Kanye West is a standout track on this album, speaking to the direction mainstream hip-hop is heading. With emphasis on simpler, bass-heavy beats and melodic hooks, its sound will be an ear-pleaser to many. One of my biggest complaints regarding Big Sean prior to “Dark Sky Paradise” was that his rapping was slow and monotonous, simply dragging along from line to line. With his quick-paced flow in “All Your Fault,” I retract that complaint to note he is far too dependent on a standard beat to pull off such a pace.
“Paradise” is a perfect example of this pace problem. It isn’t until the steady brass plays with Mike Will’s beat that you can sing along with Big Sean’s words. Before and after this moment, the pace is distracting and unsettling. The steadiness of the beat remains in the beginning of the second verse and then leaves midway through. When this happens, we once again awkwardly try to keep following along with Big Sean’s lack of flow.
“Deep” features Lil Wayne, a collaboration that proved to be a pleasant surprise. Of all of the abundant features on this album, Lil Wayne’s feature was preemptively written off. Both Big Sean and Lil Wayne deliver a message about their personal hard work. Wayne alludes to issues regarding Cash Money Records, while Big Sean stays general. “Deep” is a great track that unites Big Sean’s clarity and invariable tempo with Lil Wayne’s syncopated inflection.
Overall, Big Sean showed improvement. Although there are times when his lyrical delivery was off, it was a commendable effort to bring the world a new look. “Dark Sky Paradise” is certainly a greater work thanks to the many artists involved in the compilation, but the foundation Big Sean has laid down is strong.