Updated: Mar 26, 2021
The wait is over for a new Big Sean project, as the Detroit rapper drops his first album in 3 years, and the sequel to his 2012 mixtape 'Detroit', titled 'Detroit 2'. Dropping a few singles beforehand, Sean had gained some hype with some good songs and a huge array of features announced on here from one of the hottest in the game right now Travis Scott to legendary icon Eminem - but after some disappointing releases, how would he jump back into the scene?
The production is great on here, it's full of banging trap beats, such as on 'Harder Than My Demons' which has a smooth, psychedelic bass with a quick paced tempo as he talks on God helping him overcoming his demons and his great work ethic. It's a great, short and quick paced banger. It also has some psychedelic, slower more R&B style beats, like the track 'Body Language' which is a decent beat (nothing too crazy) as he talks on his sexual experiences with Jhené Aiko who has graphic lyrics and groovy vocals while Ty Dolla $ign provides a great vocal performance on the hook as per usual. Sean has some slick and seductive lines, "Don't just take your clothes off, take the problems off // Take the armor off, take all the drama off", but overall it's a pretty mid track. The hook is nice and vocals are good but Sean's sex tracks are just never too interesting to me. 'FEED' has a banging trap beat with a psychedelic atmosphere as Sean wonders what his purpose is and talks about his life and relationship with family and friends. It's nothing too interesting lyrically but it has some cool references, a solid verse and creates a good atmosphere. Some beats are pretty standard but there isn't really a horrible instrumental on here.
Sean on this fills the project with nice wordplay and solid punchlines, such as on 'ZTFO' where he says, "If we don't have the same vision, then we can't exchange contacts (Brr)", as this track talks on how bad energy affects his zen state of mind over this darker trap beat with synth bells and piano keys. It's a simplistic track but with a few good bars and nice wordplay it's a catchy banger. At other moments Sean talks to us in his verses and even gets introspective and in his thoughts at times, such as on 'Full Circle' where he talks on everything from his pre-fame life coming back around full circle such as listening to Kanye when he was younger and a decade later on the same day dropping his own number 1 album. The beat sounds like a cry out for help with it's bass as we get a small input from Diddy (too small to make an impact) and KeY Wane's bouncy flow, decent wordplay and solid verse all contribute to a good feature, "Yeah, doin' doughnuts in the Porsche at the dealer // Listenin’ to Dilla". It's a great song with solid verses from Sean and KeY and a great atmosphere to it as well. 'Everything That's Missing' has some decent storytelling with great and thought provoking lines "Swear that's my dream, but he too blind to see that // If he doin' what he love in his freetime, then his dream already happened", as the track talks on working hard and believing in yourself to achieve your dreams and go through the struggle to reach heights - it concludes at the end that the fame doesn't satisfy you like being back home. The grimy piano and droopy feeling partnered with the nice drum pattern is decent as Dwelle provides some nice backing vocals. It's a nice track, he really speaks to us, gives us good advice and comes to a great conclusion on this. His flow is great and he can deploy different speeds of his cadences throughout, while his delivery is decent just a little bit monotonous at times, other times it's nice and laid back.
There's a load of features on here as almost every track has one - which makes this album even bigger in terms of importance. The features do well here overall with some really good ones, including a posthumous feature from Nipsey Hussle on 'Deep Reverence' who is slick with some hard lines, a proper West Coast flow and an overall good commentary as the track talks on pressures in life from gangs, mental health and having a rap career. Big Sean was really honest and emotional at times - giving us a good social commentary to a degree, despite having these awful lines "And how the fuck it's people that never met me that hate me? // I wonder if they understand that I meditate daily", as if meditating is meant to make people love you, but he does this over this booming trap beat with a distorted keyboard and guitar which sounds good. It's got a banging beat, great feature, outstanding Sean verse and spot on flow/delivery - an elite Sean song. There's some features that are a bit mediocre, but none are horrible or really ruin the song, like on 'Guard Your Heart' where Anderson .Paak provides a smooth performance as he feels broken without his girl while Earlly Mac's laid back vocals are nice with the twinkling piano, orchestra and catchy drum pattern as Wale finishes it off with also a nice laid back verse and thoughtful lyrics as he talks on the BLM movement, injustices in America as well as Trump. Sean reflects on his dark past and the regrets he made in life, and technically the features weren't bad but I had higher hopes for this one. The track felt a lot more slower moving than others on here - the features were good, and I did enjoy the song I just wish it was more gripping.
The main track for features on here is clearly 'Friday Night Cypher', but before we talk about the performances let's talk about the track first, such as Sean giving us some great bars as he talks on making it and achieving his goals as well as his relationship problems. The beat on this is forever changing but it's never too interesting of a beat. Into the features, Tee Grizzley kicks things off with decent bars as he glides over the beat, the Kash Doll has some hard and menacing lines while her whole confidence makes her verse stand out. Cash Kidd has some good lines, "I keep dyin' in my dreams, but life great when I stay woke // Bet you love dreamin', that's the only time you ain't broke", but ultimately is a bit forgettable as Payroll Giovanni is really meh with some off mixing but has a mean delivery. 42 Dugg does his thing and Boldy James lyrically is strong and gives us a standard verse for him before Drego just sinks into the track. Sada Baby didn't stand out on this before Royce da 5'9" gives a great display of lyricism as he talks on growing up in Detroit and ignoring hate - providing us a great verse. Then comes in Eminem, who talks on being better than his competition with slick wordplay, "Yeah, so when I pull it, surprise like Kendrick Lamar" (play on Pulitzer Prize that Kendrick Lamar won for his album 'DAMN.', great bars, "You need to walk the Yellow Brick Road and find the chick with the dog // 'Cause y'all are missing a heart // Plus your bitch is giving out brain like the Wizard of Oz", and punchlines throughout with his solid flow as he makes this track his own with his great charisma. Overall, it's a mixed track with some great performers (e.g. Em, Royce, Sean) and some not so good. It's decent and definitely an interesting track.
On this album, Sean talks a lot about his tough upbringing while comparing it to the pressures he now lives due to his fame, such as on 'Respect It' where he specifically talks about overcoming the odds from his rough upbringing and how he deserves respect. Sean has some wordplay, metaphors and good one liners over the pretty standard trap beat with sliding 808s, but his verse and the hook is just so boring and monotonous. Young Thug's feature saves the track with his nice lines as he flexes his wealth for the most part bringing such a presence with his vocal inflections. Mental health is also a common theme here such as on track 2 'Lucky Me' where he talks on his heart condition and how lucky he is to be alive and in the position he's in, with some nice wordplay, punchlines and honest lyrics, "Lil' bitch, this Detroit-fucking-2 // My thoughts is all-black, yeah, I'm back to the root". The slow paced beat and stripped back guitar was pretty boring until it switched to a more serious trap beat. The lyrics while honest don't always hit you in a powerful way, and before the beat switch the whole delivery and feel of the track was lifeless but Sean's quick flows and the new banging trap beat saved this song. Other topics include hitting back at haters, flexing his success, working hard and sex, such as on the intro 'Why Would I Stop?' where he gives a message to his haters which is that he's back and not going anywhere as he reflects on his success with some decent punchlines over this banging trap beat with booming 808s. It's a banger of an intro with some solid lines and multiple flow switches to keep you engaged. It's a cohesive project with great depth to it as well.
Other tracks to look at includes 'Wolves' which is full of metaphors patterned out as Sean talks on the environment he grew up in and how his family was like a pack of wolves and the importance of loyalty. Post Malone is here too giving us some cool lines and a great verse with great vocals over this fire beat with unorthodox 808s, soft twinkling synths and murky bass. The hook is ridiculously good and overall both do their job to create what they aimed to create - a banger. On 'Lithuania' Sean brags about his money and success over the sticky synth base line and flute which sounds great providing some solid lines in the process. Travis Scott is on here and gives us his best output in recent memory with a great hook and great energy to his vocals as the track is a banger from start to finish. 'Time In' is another track with a slow R&B beat and glossy synth kicks and Sean talks about putting time in for his loved one, featuring his girlfriend Jhené Aiko who's vocals clash with Sean's well as the chemistry is there to see but it just isn't very interesting. Sean shows us some vulnerability and honesty here, "But losin' a lover and a friend // Is like goin' through two funerals, uh // That's my worst habit // Playin' out things that's yet to happen", but again these kinds of tracks from Sean are just boring and uneventful - nothing different here.
'The Baddest' has this brass instrumental which makes a catchy melody to the beat which sounds slightly evil as Sean reflects on what's made him get to the position he's in now. It's a bit of a banger, but not as good as the other turn up tracks on here but it's still decent. 'Don Life' has this explosive trap beat with glossy synths as Sean talks on hate motivating him, and is joined by Lil Wayne who glides over this beat with his nice flow giving such a presence here as he has some decent punchlines, "I've been having conversations with the constellations // We keep this shit between us, just like a doctor-patient". It's a great song but Wayne ultimately stole the show on this one. Finally, the final track 'Still I Rise' begins with this really upbeat and triumphant feel to it as he gives us some nice wordplay and one liners, "You think I paid for everything and didn't pay attention", to talk on his appreciation for his girl. The feature in DOM KENNEDY has a small input but an enjoyable hook as this is a victory lap song for Sean with an amazing beat, great hook and real solid verse.
To conclude, Big Sean dropped a solid project here giving us a mix of bangers, tracks he talks to us in and R&B inspired songs. Sean succeeds at all areas a few times (bar the R&B side) and even if not every song hits there's some versatility on here. The beats are nice, features exciting, rapping good - but the main issue is 21 tracks wasn't needed and if it was cut down it would've been a great project. The skits on here added to the Detroit theme well as 3 different people (Dave Chapelle, Stevie Wonder & Erykah Badu) give us enjoyable stories related to the city. Despite the length, it wasn't hard to sit through and I'm impressed by this project - it's one of his better albums.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Why Would I Stop?, Lucky Me, Deep Reverence, Wolves, Everything That's Missing, ZTFO, Lithuania, Still I Rise
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Time In
OVERALL RATING: Solid 7.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*
This album went from one of the standouts of 2020 upon the first few listens, to extremely disappointing and forgettable a few months later, it's the biggest change of an opinion I've had on an album.