Big Sean has just blessed us with the hottest music video of the year with his ode to, our friend, Martin and you are still hatin’.
I like Big Sean, but, for some reason misguided reason, you still don’t like him. Your girl doesn’t like him, our fearless leader here at VSB doesn’t like him. Jimmy Fallon probably even restrains his schoolgirl-esque giggles when he comes on his set.
Liking Big Sean is a tough burden to bear. People are quick to tell you the reasons he hasn’t earned their respect. He’s dated more than one teeny-bopper turned “sex appeal struggle” actress. He’s whiny. He has no damn business calling himself "Big" when he’s smedium at best.
Big Sean is the platonic ideal of a little brother. When you think of a “little brother”, Sean’s face appears.
All of these are facts. They are valid reasons. However, I’ve done the research, and the real reason you don’t like Sean is he’s the most like you. Too much like you even.
He may be like you, or your little brother, or your big-headed cousin, or your petty ex-boyfriend, but Sean does not exude the aura of what we’ve come to expect from a rapper. He’s regular. He’s not a character.
Over the 30 plus years we’ve been listening to hip hop, strong personalities have reigned. Those personality types have morphed into archetypes that we’ve come to expect.
The Slick Talkin' Ladies man: (LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee). Every rapper has to be good with women, but this type of rapper is so dedicated to his craft, he may have even referenced performing oral sex on a woman prior to Lil Wayne circa 2006 making cunnilingus okay in rap and then subsequently disgusting.
The Bohemian: (Tribe Called Quest, Lupe, Andre 3000) This type of rapper is so deep, he don’t even rap. Nappy afro is optional.
The Street Poet: (Nas, Kendrick Lamar) This type of rapper has seen some shit, but his pen and his pad saved him. The contemporary Street Poet is typically the best rapper alive but he ain’t one ounce of fun. Don’t let him try to be either or hate will follow. (See: “You Owe Me”, “Swimming Pools”)
The Cartoon: (Busta Rhymes, Redman, Most Atlanta Rappers) This rapper never fails to entertain you and never disappoints on a feature with his animated style. His album might be good, but you haven’t heard it. Just like the Academy Awards, no one respects comedy.
The Hustler, Do’Boy, Thug: (All) This rapper is about his money. Laws, relationships, staying a member of the democratic party be damned . If you listen to one of these rappers albums, you basically have an instructional booklet to go out and poison your community.
Of course there are variations, but where does Big Sean fit into this? The problem is he doesn’t. He’s an amalgam of all of these but he doesn’t really go for any of them. He straddles the line, because he’s just a regular ass dude who made it.
I am willing to admit that I have had struggle rap days and, honestly, if you can read above a twelfth grade level, coming up with something clever bars isn’t that hard. But some moral quandaries do arise. Is my grandmother going to hear this? How can I big up my city and actually help them? Where is this going to lead me?
Even though Drake spit his secular all on "Blessings", Sean more or less made a hip hop praise song and somebody in his family is happy about it. His childhood church in Detroit probably already made an arrangement with a bass harmony. Steph Curry even let’s Riley sing it, and you know they’re a first pew family.
Hip Hop goons and narcissists may toss these notions aside, but a regular ass dude with regular ass feelings may temper them and just be honest. Being “real” is one of the core tropes of rap, but being honest isn’t. It lacks bravado. It lacks the bullshit that we want from rap. “Realness” is staying loyal to a past and to other people, while honesty is staying loyal to the truth.
Sean’s truth ain’t sexy. It doesn’t arouse our desire for the absurd. He’s not a strip club deviant, he’s not a vegan, he’s a cat from Detroit with two good eyes who could rap good. One of his hottest bars on "Blessings" is: “I pay my mortgage, and electric. Never going under even with anaesthetic.”
That’s right. Big Sean got auto-pay. That’s real to me. I feel that. Bill paying rap? = Fire Emojis.
Sean grew up watching these archetypal rappers and incorporated them into his rap algorithm. Thusly, Big Sean is shuffle. You may have to skip a few tracks but you’ll find some you want to listen to.
“Blessings”, “IDFWU”, “Mercy”, “Clique”, or even as far back as “A$$” or “Marvin and Chardonnay” are tracks that YOU like. Accept it. Big Sean has more notable singles than Kendrick and he even dropped a brick along the way, Hall of Fame, that nobody heard.
That’s not a shot at Kendrick but Sean deserves love. His contemporaries have, more or less, picked a type. Kendrick is our street poet du jour; J Cole and Wale are both leaning toward a Neo-bohemian lane, and Drake…well Drake is actually pretty similar to Sean. They both dabble, but Drake is all about the bullshit. There’s no reservations there. He’s embracing Litchfield like Piper with a tattoo needle.
Your rappers need not be coke-pushing superheroes. They don’t have to be actors. Regular dudes, smoke, chase women and money, and pontificate on it just like drug addled monsters do. Somebody just as regular as you can make you go, “ahh that was clever!”, it doesn’t lessen your taste.
Let’s try it out. Here’s a line: “I’m A G, with the L lit on me me like an elevator.” Did you chuckle mildly? Give Dark Sky Paradise a listen and enjoy bars like that one over damn good beats.
Liking Big sean is like admitting you don’t like turkey bacon. Don’t lie to yourself to fit in with highbrow crowd. Enjoy some flavorful empty calories. You ain’t got to lie to kick it.
Big Sean isn’t.