In an era of Lils and Youngs, Detroit’s Big Sean deserves credit for going against the grain with his grand moniker. However, even a cursory skim of the 23 year old rapper’s much heralded debut reveals little aspiration to be particularly different, or even big in anything beyond his stage name.
Exemplified by the ubiquitous summer anthem “My Last,” Finally Famous is a pristinely produced and easily digestible reflection on the spoils and perils of the overnight celebrity that new media stardom can now afford an up and coming rapper before a proper album ever hits the streets. “Wait For Me” is a melodically melancholy meditation on the sacrifices that come with pursuing a dream, while “Marvin and Chardonnay” is a frenetic ode to the life of the party and the lust of the after party. The John Legend featured “Memories (Part II)” is a heartfelt recounting of the people and places that defined Sean before he was Big.
If the highlights of Finally Famous feel instantly recognizable, it could be attributed to the easy, conversational charisma of Big Sean. Or, perhaps you’ve heard the recent offerings from Drake and Wiz Khalifa, or the early work of Sean’s mentor Kanye West, possibly the first rapper to mine the emotional mileage of fame before it was even fully realized. While West’s flamboyance and Drake’s earnestness allow them to leave distinctive footprints even on well-worn paths, Big Sean too often seems to simply be following oversized tracks. What’s more, the above rappers were successfully able to execute cohesive concept albums free of awkwardly rendered club fodder like “Do It,” and the painful “Dance (Ass).”
With the breakout success of “My Last,” Big Sean has already proven that he can make hits, and Finally Famous boasts enough bouncy beats and catchy hooks that he should have no problem landing a follow up on the charts. Still, the album falls short of establishing him as an artist of a magnitude to match his name.