From a song about the qualities of the back sides of women to a song about making the most out of every memory in life, Big Sean’s experiences expand wider than the average hip-hop fan may realize.
Big Sean performed Monday night at the Aebersold Recreation Center in front of 1,000 fans, and his Detroit roots were evident throughout the performance as he wore a Detroit Red Wings hat.
On a set of couches in gym B of the ARC after an energy-filled show, Big Sean sat and reflected on his life growing up in Detroit.
“I grew up in the hood but I also went to a private school, so it was like a mix of both worlds,” he said. “I got a different perspective of Detroit than most people did. I would stay at my friend Caleb’s house in the suburbs with rich parents, and then I’d have other friends who lived in shacks with roaches.”
Big Sean, whose actual name is Sean Anderson, said that growing up in those different situations helped him to know when to be professional and how to act around different people.
“Seeing the world the way I did helped me to know that there are different times to act certain ways,” he said. “That translated into my music and helped me to not be closed-minded because I knew that not everyone went through the same thing that I did.”
That ability to come up with a unique style and show different sides in his music paid off big time for Big Sean when Kanye West listened to him rap and ultimately signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music record label.
“I remember riding to school listening to Kanye, so when the opportunity came for me to get signed by one of my favorite artists, it was a dream come true,” he said. “When Kanye called me to offer me the contract, I was driving to my girlfriend’s house and I was so overwhelmed that I had to pull over because I was crying so hard.”
After being signed to G.O.O.D. Music, Big Sean released his first studio album, “Finally Famous,” which sold 87,000 copies in its debut week and is currently up to over 325,000 sales.
Big Sean was able to have an impressive list of guest artists on his first album, including his boss Kanye West, label mate John Legend, Pittsburgh based rapper Wiz Khalifa, and Chris Brown.
After the success of “Finally Famous,” Big Sean is about 70 percent done with his second album and will be releasing it after the G.O.O.D. Music label releases its compilation album, which is set to come out in the summer.
As Big Sean sat backstage with his Detroit Lions hat, gold chains on his neck, and rings on his finger, he thought back on getting to the point he’s at now and said that he’s glad he didn’t let his family down.
“I’m glad I didn’t let my mom or grandparents down,” he said. “I didn’t go to college, and they were a little bit depressed about that. I’m glad to see that they’re happy now.”
With a second album on the way and on the back end of a world tour, Big Sean said that all of the experiences that he’s had has made him a humbler person.
“There was one time when we were in Colorado and this kid was standing outside of my tour bus all day,” he said. “My manager finally brought him in and he didn’t have a ticket. We gave him a ticket and then brought him backstage after the show.”
At this point in the story, Big Sean had the attention of every person in the media who was gathered around him in the back gym of the ARC. He continued on with his story.
“The kid came backstage and hugged me and started crying,” he said. “He was like 13 years old and he told me I was his hero and said that he wanted to make a better life for his family like I did for mine. So, I told him to get good grades and stay out of trouble and all of that stuff.”
The last part of Big Sean’s story was an ode to the fact that he does not fall under the banner of a stereotypical rapper.
“It was at that point in time that I realized if you got the mic and you got the crowd, then you have to make sure that you say something important, too,” he said. “People look up to you and you don’t want to steer an entire generation in the wrong direction.”
While Big Sean does have songs about money, sex and drugs that get played in clubs, he looks to empower people to go against the odds and do things that they’re told they can’t.
“I grew up being told I shouldn’t rap and I should do this or that,” he said. “I didn’t listen to any of them. When you understand the concept that the world literally revolves around you, then you can do anything. The only reason you can’t do something is because you’re your own worst enemy and didn’t think you could accomplish it anyway. Whatever you want to do, it’ll happen if you go after it.”