When we look back to the early 2010s, an era where Detroit, MI icon Eminem had begun to reach the other side of the hill musically, his hometown needed a new figure to carry the torch. And for Big Sean, his emergence into the rap game came right on time.
Although he had a number of mixtapes from the Finally Famous Vol. 1-3 series under his belt, along with his debut album also dubbed Finally Famous from 2011, his 2012 mixtape named for his stomping grounds felt like an extension of his christening as a rap star. Additionally, the tendencies and habits he began to develop in this stage of his career were evidently what molded one of our genre’s most under-appreciated careers and catalogs.
On Sept. 5, 2022, Detroit‘s 10th anniversary, Big Sean finally added the well-renowned mixtape to digital streaming platforms, putting an end to his fans having to turn to DatPiff to listen to the LP. And, when revisiting the project, it’s almost eerie when you realize how most of the track list foreshadows the direction his career went.
There have always been two prevalent, overarching song topics that Big Sean has aimed to accomplish with his music: uplifting and flexing. And, a great majority of the 18 songs included in the re-release tackle one of these two ideas. Aside from the weed anthems like “Experimental,” “FFOE, “RWT” and “All I Know,” hilariously indicative of the amount of “good tree” he was smoking at the time, he was either doing an incredible job at getting the listener’s blood flowing with inspirational cuts or boasting how much “Mula” he rakes in.
Songs like the stimulating “Woke Up,” the wonderfully melodic “I’m Gonna Be” — the first of a litany of collabs with his R&B girlfriend Jhené Aiko who he is currently expecting a baby with — and the motivational “Life Should Go On” all display the continuously optimistic side of Sean, and contain stellar production from his in-house producer Key Wane.
On the flip side, tracks like the aforementioned “Mula,” the timeless “24K of Gold,” the triumphant “How It Feel” and the braggadocious “Higher” all reveal the mindset of Sean in the midst of his untouchable run early in his career. The respect and admiration he had been garnering at that time surely translated in the amount of legendary peers he had secured on the feature roster, and continued to attract on pretty much every subsequent album.
Separated by skits from Common, Jeezy and Snoop Dogg, Detroit‘s songs are littered with supreme talent such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, fellow Detroit native Royce da 5’9, Wale and more. And, although “Do What I Gotta Do” with Tyga was the sole track that was not cleared for release on DSPs, Sean was able to make up for it with a previously unreleased cut from 2019 titled “More Thoughts,” which involves a singular verse about his feelings of distrust and impatience in hindsight regarding his career.
Look, b*tch, please, don’t act like my friend, be my friend
My mama said, “Don’t act like a man, be a man
Quit going overboard,” I think it’s finally sinkin’ in“More Thoughts (2019)” — Big Sean
Ultimately, Detroit‘s release this week was an excellent reminder of the blossoming kid with a chip on his shoulder who had just signed to G.O.O.D Music and was just named an XXL Freshman. Using its success and impressive result as a measuring stick a decade later, the evolution and consistency of all of Big Sean’s projects since then tell the story of an artist who refused to fall off and continued to deliver. With new music on the way after releasing Detroit‘s sequel in 2020, it would only be fair to continue to expect greatness from one of the Motor City’s finest.
Check out ‘Detroit’ by Big Sean below!