"Hall of Fame: Memoirs of a Detroit Player."
Just from the original title you can tell that "Hall of Fame" is intended to be Big Sean's take on the legendary rap albums of the past.
Following in the steps of mentors Kanye West and Eminem, whose sophomore efforts are arguably their best works, Big Sean has tried to recreate similar feelings on his newly-released project.
A combination of the buzz generated by the initial single from the G.O.O.D music compilation "Cruel Summer" titled "Mercy," the second single "Clique," and Big Sean's new mix tape "Detroit," made it evident that it was officially Big Sean's time.
The hype for the album came to a climatic peak during an appearance on Funk Flex's radio show when Big Sean released a collaboration between himself, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica that set the world and internet alike on fire. In the song, entitled "Control," Lamar poses the challenge to a few of the standouts from this new era of hip-hop which includes Jermaine Cole, Wale and even the lead artist Big Sean. This song, which had to be cut from the album due to clearance issue, was the perfect springboard to Sean's new album and also gave him the platform he so rightly deserved for the release.
Through all of the hype, "Hall of Fame" finds a way to deliver all the promises of Big Sean. With veteran producer No ID and newcomer Key Wane cultivating the overall sound of the album, "Hall of Fame" is the perfect court for Big Sean to showcase his skills.
"Hall of Fame" begins with the inspiring opener "Nothing is Stopping You." On this track, Big Sean retells the well-known story of how he was discovered and eventually signed by Kanye West through an impromptu freestyle at a radio station. The track also highlights a 360 degree moment in his career where the tables are turned, and now he is on the other end, stopping to listen to an unknown artist that is giving his best freestyle in an effort to get signed by a label.
This song not only shows growth in the life of Big Sean, but also growth in his music as well. Instead of taking the approach he took on his previous album where he just made catchy songs, Sean is now setting the tone for "Hall of Fame" that creates a more personal effort.
This personal theme continues throughout the duration of the album. The next few standout songs on the album include "Fire", "Toyota Music" and "You Don't Know." These tracks are somewhat the backbone of the album, displaying Big Sean's new trippy, LSD-inspired style of production, and set the tempo for the rest of the album.
"You Don't Know" is also an interesting song due to the oddly uncredited Ellie Goulding feature on the hook. It is interesting to see Big Sean and Ellie let each other into their own musical worlds without either of them losing anything artistically.
The next song on the album is the single "Beware," a ballad discussing relationships and scorned women. This track is refreshing due to the fact that it sounds like nothing that is currently on the radio, and also includes a stellar Lil' Wayne verse.
"First Chain," is probably the standout track of the entire album.
This No ID-produced song is one of those classic hip-hop songs that gives listeners chills on the first listening. Big Sean, assisted by Nas and Kid Cudi, go back and forth sharing their different and yet similar experiences in buying their first piece of the hip-hop pie, a chain.
The album then changes direction to more up-tempo tunes with the tracks "Mona Lisa" and "Milf," until it goes back to its laid-back approach with one of the albums greatest moments, the island-feeling "Sierra Leone."
The album ends with Big Sean getting even more personal on the tracks "World Ablaze", "Ashley" and "All Figured Out." On these tracks Sean talks about everything from his love for his ex girlfriend to this same ex-girlfriend's mother having cancer, how they dealt with it, and just his life in general. A more than fitting end to an album in which Big Sean lets us into a personal space which he wasn't comfortable in on songs past.
Only time will tell if "Hall of Fame" will live to be known as an undisputed "Hip Hop Classic," but the foundation is definitely in place. Big Sean stepped out of his comfort zone on this album and allowed us to get a peak into the true him, which was the one of the few things currently missing from Big Sean having the total package as an artist.
Big Sean had already established his lyrical skills rapping, but on "Hall of Fame" Sean takes the next step into becoming a well-rounded artist by giving the fans music that they could actually feel and connect to emotionally.