While we're quietly working on our websites layout, Big Sean releases his first mixtape since he dropped "Finally Famous: The Album". We're very curious to what he's done with it, since he said that he didn't really appreciate his own work on his first album. Hopefully he'll go back to the artist he was on his first two mixtapes, a little less ignorant and a little more content.
Starting with something calm, something that sounds like cruising on the highway in the late nights, when you're tired and need something to relax to, the Key Wane produced "Higher" flows through the room like a blow of smoke. This song is probably the calmest song we've heard in a long time from Sean, except for the 4 second part where they take the "Mercy" instrumental and then switch back. It's a perfect track, both instrumentally as well as lyrically, giving everybody an update to what has been happening around him, a starting point to all his ideas. And that is exactly what the next track, "24K of Gold", which features Roc Nation's golden child on a very inspiring song. Although being grateful for everything he has for now, he still is able to make a song like "A Million Dollars", telling us that he still has dreams, that there's always a next step, but that for now it's all good. It's in this song that J. Cole actually just reminisces, just being grateful, something you don't hear a lot from this critical artist that had a lot of things to say on his solo album.
"Story by Common", just like the one's with Young Jeezy and Snoop Lion, are actually really interesting skits to listen to. The whole mixtape has an inspiring, insightful feeling to it. Common talks about J Dilla, who was born and raised in Detroit, Snoop Lion tells everyone about his experience of first coming to Detroit and the same goes for Jeezy, who actually walked to a club and going to a stripclub after his performance.
Although we already heard part of songs such as "24K of Gold" and "How It Feel", they still feel brand new listening while going through all the songs. We're surprised by the vibe that this mixtape is set in. It's definitely something that we love to hear from Sean, but take this song for instance: It's got single quality, but it's smooth and relax. While trap and dubstep are taking over, Sean still sticks to his own style that he worked on in his first three mixtapes. There is a disappointment however. Although "Woke Up" promises Mike Posner and James Fantleroy on the track, we're dissapointed to find out that Mike only does 5 seconds on the song. The song doesn't even make sense, but sounds alright. Definitely something to skip, something we didn't expect with names like Mike and James on a track.
"Experimental" is exactly what the title said it would be. It's nothing like you've ever heard Sean do before, something different but fresh as hell. Not only the flow, nor him not starting on his own song, but even the flow is a little different from normal. Until now, this is our favorite mixtape by him to date. The only question is: is K.Chip actually King Chip and did he do another name change, or does he just sound like Chip the Ripper?
Now we didn't expect Young Chop to actually produce for Big Sean, especially after the whole thing with the "I Don't Like Remix", but next to all the controversy and beef, we just love the instrumental for "Mula". Featuring BadBoy Records' French Montana, who fits perfectly on this song, this track is the first thing we heard that sounds a little like trap. It's far from bad though, so we forgive Sean this time. Something we didn't expect as well is a combination of Kendrick Lamar, Royce Da 5'9" and Big Sean. All three standing at the outer ends of ring we call hiphop, Big is standing on the side of most quotable ad-libs, Kendrick as the lyrically strongest rapper in his time and Royce Da 5'9" probably the most underground rapper to appear in two well selling rap supergroups. This brings a special quality to the song though, since it has every aspect that a song would need. It has a cool sound, something that doesn't compromise and something that actually has content and meaning to it. With all three rappers citing their bucket list, this song is probably the realest song Sean ever wrote or has in his repertoire. (As well as the best song produced by Nick Cannon, who normally creates the worst songs we heard in our iTunes)
After his biggest hit, we finally see Chris and Sean collaborating again on "Selling Dreams", which isn't as big a hit as "My Last", but does fit better in the setting of this album. Another thing that makes this song better is that Chris only gets the chorus (and of course that he isn't rapping). The same goes for Jhene Aiko, who has the same position in this album as Chris gets, which is actually doing something that they're good at. It seems that Sean has developed a perfect insight to which artist has to do what, and on which track (except for "Woke Up" of course). In this mixtape, Sean brings the best out of himself, as well as his producers.
Now every man needs an anthem, so get your damn hands up. Or well, just play this a little louder than you did with the other songs. Produced by Lex Luger, someone we hadn't heard from in a while, produces the Finally Famous Over Everything anthem titles "FFOE", which instrumental actually does the lyrics a favor. "Do What I Gotta Do" is actually worse, which has a terrible, chaotic beat, a forgettable feature by Tyga and an even more horrible verse by Big Sean. It doesn't get any better with "RWT", although we love how arrogant Sean is on this track. At least someone still mentions Soulya Boy (we admit, we enjoyed the 'prom date' line). Lyrically, the track has some smart moves, but production wise this is one of the lesser productions by Key Wane, who actually did a lot on this mixtape.
Finally we hit the track with Hit-Boy, who produced "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", someone who never disappoints us whenever he sits in the producer seat. Known for his cinematographic, well shaped instrumentals, this song is surprisingly addictive. Both the percussions as the synths have something mystical. We can't wait to hear what the man did for "Cruel Summer", but for now this song is probably the best song to listen to. Lyrically this song is probably one of the most insightful and relatable songs we've heard in months. What ever happened to hiphop, with everybody making songs on how much bottles they pop and how all the girls are super hot. Surely they mean well, but we're not popping those gold bottles of Spades.
For the last and ending track, we get "Life Should Go On", on which we also hear Wale and which has two songs in one. It's actually the same sort of bonus track that ended albums like "The Blueprint 2", something that we just needed before everything ended. That extra little energy to feel great about this album, what is exactly what we do. Although every song after the Jhene Aiko feature (except for "Once Bitten, Twice Shy") dissapointed us more than we'd like to admit, this mixtape is actually the best thing we heard from Sean since... ever.