Big Sean talks about his new album "Hall Of Fame," Detroit, The "Supa Duppa" flow, and whether or not he's Rap Game Beyonce.
Big Sean released his sophomore album last month, and we keep learning more about it. In a recent interview with VIBE, Sean explains a few more details of the album, including the role he had in production. He also speaks about Kanye's declaration that he could be the Beyonce of rap, and the possibility of reintroducing his "Supa Dupa" flow (better know as the "Hashtag rap" that was endorsed by Drake, and allegedly killed by the dude who said "I fill her up... Balloons!").
Read some excerpts from the interview below.
Take us back real quick—all the way back to high school. You’re in your first rap group, Fresh Fam. Did Lil Sean ever think he would make it be Big Sean?
It seems so far away when I used to be like, ‘I want to buy my mom a house.’ Then it was like, ‘What do I want to do besides be famous and rep the city?' I want to change the world. I want to be a part of culture. I want to help teach. I saw it all but it was just a dream back then.
Well, you’re definitely progressing. At your official New York listening party you told everyone: ‘I’ll get on a song with Drake and out-rap Drake, I’ll get on a song with Jay out-rap Jay…’
I’m a real-ass dude, but I’m a humble dude, too. I’m not saying I’m a better rapper than Jay Z, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is you can hop on a song and out rap somebody. It’s just about that song. Like if you don’t think you’re the best, then I don’t know what you’re doing out here
As someone from Detroit who still spends time there, what you can tell us about what it’s really like in the streets?
I’m still there but my homies are there every damn day. You may hear about the poverty and bankruptcy on CNN but half the people I know don’t watch CNN. I got to be the one to relay these messages and let people know that Detroit is 15.8 million in debt. I’ve never seen vacant neighborhoods, and I’ve never seen full vacant blocks. I’m talking about a whole block of houses—then the next block and then the next block, all vacant. It’s some crazy shit and they’re full of crack heads, full of people raping girls walking to school. People I know, personal friends, girls, little sisters getting raped going to school. It fucks their whole head up, and they become different people. There ain’t nobody telling that story from Detroit. Eminem not gon’ tell that story because that’s not Eminem’s story. I feel like it’s my responsibility to be that person and tell that. I have to rep for those people on a major scale.
Did you ever think about trying to head some kind of a coalition or fundraiser to get some investors for the D. You can get Jay Z, Russell Simmons and some folks together to try and really get Detroit back on its feet.
I try man, and I’ve started my own foundation, the Sean Anderson Foundation. Last year, we started out by giving families Thanksgiving dinners and then paying for families to have a real Christmas. We have a lot of big things planned. One step at a time.
I noticed sonically, the production is way more complex than your first album. Were you a lot more hands on with this project?
Yeah, this was the first time where I was like an actual producer. I really played the role of a producer. I probably didn’t get the credit but I was up in there tweaking these songs just how I wanted them. I was sitting with the producers telling them how to play it, what to take out and what to put in.
So you were getting your Puff Daddy on?
[Laughs] I guess so. Next album I’m probably going to get even more into the production side of it. It was just me and my engineer sometimes, or me and No ID or me and Key Wane and I would sit with them and tell them exactly how I wanted the beat. I’m not taking anything away from the producers. I’m just saying I had a lot of input on the production side of things as well.
Do you think that is Kanye’s influence?
It must be, because when I get in the studio with other people you know like Wiz or French or other people they’re like, ‘Damn you really are into this.' That’s how songs like “Mercy” get taken to that level or any song on Hall of Fame.
I remember when “Mercy” came out and people were looking at you like a new rapper. They didn’t expect you to come so hard on that.
I just had the slow flow and added the “swerve.” Before the song came out, I was like, ‘Should I change my verse?’ I was thinking people are going to say 'Sean wasn’t rapping how 2 Chainz was spazzing on there.' That was the first time I realized that music is a puzzle, and sometimes when you’re a piece to that puzzle. Just make sure you fit.
Also, melody wise on this album, you’re way more melodic on songs like “World Ablaze”
“World Ablaze,” I’m singing on there… but I’m not about to drop an R&B album or anything.
Have you ever thought about at least recording a real R&B songs?
I wrote one R&B song called “London Bridge.” It’s pretty tight.
Is anyone ever going to hear that?
I played it for a couple people like Jhené Aiko and she loved it. I played it for No ID and he loved it. I was just straight up singing, and I was going to add a rap verse at the end. I did two verses where I was just singing. I can’t sing that well, but I can hold a note. I guess I can harmonize.
You should just drop it under a secret alias on Soundcloud with no photo. I mean just put it out there and see what the people say.
People are gonna know it’s me. But that’s an idea…
At your first listening in New York, Kanye said, ‘What Beyoncé is to R&B…Big Sean can be to rap.’ Do you remember him saying that?
I just think what he was saying was like… Kanye says great statements. He’s definitely awesome, man. I don’t think I’m the Beyoncé of rap. I’m the Big Sean of rap. I’ve contributed to some of the biggest rap songs and have some of the biggest rap songs over the last couple years.
You ever thought about bringing back the super-duper flow?
Maybe, I’m about to start working on my third album. That may be something to think about since it’s calmed down a little bit. Every rapper was like… ‘And I’m smoking on green (grass) and I got the steering wheel in my hands (driving). [laughs] That’s how bad it was getting.
Are there any other rap trends or rap flows that you think is annoying?
You know what I think is hilarious? People just feel like you’re snapping when you rap fast. That’s like the biggest misconception I’ve ever experienced in rap music. But if you ain’t saying nothing then you just wasting time. I wish people would listen to the words more sometimes but whatever.