“The Don” Big Sean returns with the release of Detroit 2, a sequel to his mixtape Detroit and a concept album that pays tribute to his personal history and the city that shaped him as a person.
“Why Would I Stop?” starts the album off with confidence and pride, and in roughly a minute, shows himself having a different mentality than other lyricists in hip hop with “I don’t complain, I adapt.” The track ends ambiently, making for a smooth transition into “Lucky Me”, which has a freestyle feel to it. “Lucky Me” is a flex of Big Sean’s lyrical flows and the first time he puts the things he’s never talked about out in the open, notably his battle with a heart disease he was diagnosed with at the age of 19 and his experience with holistic healing.
The powerful and dynamic “Deep Reverence” opens with a verse from Nipsey Hussle, paying his respects to the community in South Los Angeles he was recognized for contributing to. Frank and introspective, Big Sean recounts his past conflicts with rapper Kendrick Lamar, a miscarriage he suffered with his ex-girlfriend, how he continues to be successful in the music industry despite the internal and external obstacles he’s faced, and how he questions why he’s hated for having good intentions as an artist. Three songs in, listeners know this isn’t just a testimony of Big Sean’s trials– this is his most lyrically vulnerable album yet.
“Wolves” with Post Malone– a icon in the realms of emo rap and pop– is melodic and catchy. The chorus is an earworm and Malone’s vocals outshine anything else, making his feature the song’s keystone. The next track, “Body Language”, features Ty Dolla $ign and Jhene Aiko. Personally, I like both of these artists on their own and I’m glad they were able to take center stage on this track, but I found it to be a little underwhelming and out of place.
“Story By Dave Chappelle”, an interlude talking about Big Sean’s father is a transition that pays tribute to Big Sean’s city and the rapper himself. A testament to his faith and relentless dedication, “Harder Than My Demons” is an undeniable banger that brings the hard-hitting cadence and delivery Big Sean is known for. Unexpectedly, the song ends with an ascending, church-esque outro and goes right into “Everything That’s Missing”, which features Dwele. Right off the bat, lyrics like ‘I’m about to delete my Twitter and follow my intuition” give way that the song is going to be compelling to listeners, whether it was anticipated or not. Here, he reflects on the start of his career while tackling the topics of moving to a new city to start over, the importance of staying positive, and how taxing and unfulfilling fame can really be.
For anyone familiar with his discography, “ZTFO” has a flow similar to an older track, “Moves”, and the song is appropriately titled to match its hook. “Guard Your Heart” with Anderson .Paak, Earlly Mac, and Wale changes the vibe of the album with its soulful sound. The instrumentals are light, but the lyrics are heavy and scream “unapologetic”, touching on the protests, police brutality, racial injustice, and the Black Lives Matter movement that’s been brought to everyone’s attention in recent months.
“Respect It” is a boast of accomplishments between Big Sean and Young Thug and a PSA discouraging anyone who thinks they could do the duo dirty. Travis Scott and his almost robotic-sounding vocal style hop on “Lithuania” for a feature, a track named after the artists’ homage to all the travelling they’ve done. Big Sean reflects how his career has come “Full Circle” on the track that feels more like an interlude due to its brevity, and the song goes straight into TWENTY88’s interlude “Time In”, followed by Erykah Badu’s spoken word story about the culture of Detriot and the musical genius the city births.
“FEED” and “The Baddest” offer two drastically different perspectives on the victory that comes from overcoming struggle. It’s no secret rappers like Lil Wayne and Big Sean became successful from their insane, unstoppable work ethics, and the duo team up on “Don Life” to tell it to the world. “Friday Night Cypher” is 8 minutes and has a slew of features from the city of Detroit including Eminem for its finale; this track packs so much, you just have to listen for yourself. Closing out the album is a final spoken word interlude by Stevie Wonder, explaining how vision is more than being able to physically see the world and how our imagination manifests into our reality. The final track of Detroit 2, “Still I Rise”, carried the exact message I expected it to: to accept every loss and win as life’s learning experiences.
This album is chock full of features– some a lot stronger and more appropriate for the album than others, but nonetheless, any fans of hip hop nowadays will probably hear at least one artist they like featured somewhere on Detroit 2. Second, for some, a monstrous 21-song album might give off the notion that it goes on and on– and while it is very long, the length doesn’t take away from it being easily absorbed by listeners.
In all, this album struck me differently than a lot of hip hop releases I hear nowadays because of how raw and serious every topic that contributes to the album’s overall theme is. Detroit 2 is a moment for Big Sean to put his versatility and emotions in the spotlight and do things he’s never done before.
Favorite tracks: Wolves, Deep Reverence, Harder Than My Demons, Respect It