Cover art for 'Detroit 2' / Photo from Pitchfork.com

Big Sean’s fifth studio album, “Detroit 2,” takes on more personal aspects of his life and is a self-reflection told through soulful tracks aided by both A-list and up-and-coming talents.

The Motor City rapper’s newest album, which was released on Sept. 4, already has mixed reviews.

The album starts out with “Why Would I Stop?” a song about the current hip-hop/rap scene. Like most album openers, this one definitely sets the tone for what the feel and aesthetic of the rest of the album will be like. The second song, “Lucky Me” came off as very sarcastic, but at the same time very raw and autobiographical.

Many lyrics stand out in this album, but one that I liked was “rich in a world where nothing’s free, to be separated from hell by one degree.” I think there’s a lot someone can take from just that lyric.

Next is one of my favorite songs on the album called “Deep Reverence.” This song features the late Nipsey Hussle, wherein he makes appearances throughout. “Deep Reverence” focuses on gang violence, the rap game and personal struggles. Songs like these from Sean are so far and few between in my opinion. 

There’s also a reference to cancel culture when he raps a lyric about how one mistake can mess up “your whole Wikipedia.” I recommend reading the lyrics to this song.

One song that contained lyrical content that I was not expecting from him was “ZTFO.” From what I’ve heard out of Big Sean before, he usually raps about bad vibes, like with the songs “IDFWU” and “Beware.” In this song, however, he takes a different approach to express how he does not let bad vibes get to him as he is in his zen state. 

He ends the album with “Still I Rise” featuring Dom Kennedy. I think this song perfectly wraps up the album with the message that things might not have started out well or are not currently going the way you wanted, but you have to keep your head up and continue to persevere. 

What was good in the album? It’s no surprise that Big Sean is great with lyrics, as you may have noticed with his other hits. But the fact that there is so much raw emotion and personal struggles that he shared in this album gives it more of that edge that is so rare to find in music nowadays.

I like that his songs are relatable. They resonate and something about them sticks with you. 

Another cool thing about “Detroit 2” was the story interludes. Usually when listening to an album that has interludes they are still songs, but not stories. I think this was a unique aspect that really made the album more personal. It’s not every day that I listen to rap music, and finding a good rap album is hard for me. I thought this album was one of those good rap albums.

What stuck out in a not-so-good way? I am not a fan of switching beats in the middle of a song. I think that is very comparable to a “kitchen sink of ideas” kind of song where too much can actually make a song less impactful. There were also some songs in the album that seemed to stick out because they did not fit the aesthetic of the record, in my opinion. When creating an album that overall tells a story, sometimes having those “outlier” songs can really take away from the message the project is trying to convey. 

Lastly, I think it’s poor timing that he makes a lot of references to western medicine, how it’s “weak” and how he doesn’t get flu shots. It is obviously a personal choice to believe these things, but due to recent world events it could rub someone the wrong way.

The verdict: Big Sean leads listeners on a path of his self-reflection and self-discovery leading up to his present life. He touches on many topics that are still very relevant to today’s world, as well as Detroit’s rap scene. He lets us into his personal life, opening up about heart disease, how he likes to meditate and personal struggles he experienced when he was growing up.

I believe the pros of the album, like the raw emotion and great lyrics and beats, outweigh the tiny cons that stand out. 

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