Less than a year after releasing Twenty88, his Collaborative effort with R&B vocalist Jhené Aiko back in Spring of 2016, the Detroit rhyme spitter has wasted no time and released his third solo studio album entitled I Decided. through G.O.O.D. Music and Def Jam. Two years following the release of his last solo LP Dark Sky Paradise back in 2015, the 14-track project continues in a similar vein hosting a myriad of guest features from artists such as Jeremih, Migos, The Dream, Jhené Aiko, The Flint Chozen Choir, Starrah and even a rare appearance from fellow Detroit emcee Eminem, all come together to accompany Big Sean in his latest effort. I Decided. also has no shortage of in-demand producers enlisted to lace the album’s production. Featuring a full roster practically busting at the seams of who’s who amongst contemporary Hip-Hop producers in the industry; featuring the likes of Allen Ritter, Amaire Johnson, Cary Singer, Hey DJ, Detail, DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil, Gregg Rominiecki, Hitmaka, Key Wane, Maximilian Jaeger, Metro Boomin, RoboBeats, Sidney Swift, Smash David, The Track Burnaz, Travis Scott, Tre Pounds and WondaGurl who all contribute to an eclectic whirlwind of production that crafts soundscapes ripe for Sean’s style and disposition.
The album follows a loose concept throughout its 14 track run, featuring occasional skits woven in-between the album’s tracklist where an older Sean goes back an forth with his younger self. Big Sean explained the significance of the album’s artwork and concept during a stop at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. During the interview, Sean explained saying, “The concept of the album is ‘this is me & this is an older version of me (referring to the two men standing on the cover). It’s parallel right there with each other, but the name of the album is I Decided. I realized my whole life changed when I decided. I feel like life is ‘bout making right decisions at any point, or the wrong decisions. So the album is basically like having that wisdom of an old man while you’re young and going through life and figuring it out.” Needless to say, this concept and its principle is what binds much of the album’s content and guides its course of direction.
One of the few highlights off the album includes the Hitmaka and Metro Boomin’ assisted “Bounce Back”. Initially released as a single last October, the track delivers a head bop inducing trap-inspired banger. The track offers up what is easily the fastest up-tempo song on the entire album, giving Sean ample room to showcase his growth as an emcee as well as showcase one of Hip-Hops most in-demand producers. Immediately following, “No Favors” features a barely recognizable Eminem who easily delivers the best performance on the entire album and all but steals the show on one of the album’s finest stand out tracks. Shady comes in rare form giving the audience an ever so brief glimpse of a performance reminiscent of a pre-Relapse Em, spitting off references to Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, throwing disses at figures such as Anne Coulter and even calling Donald Trump a bitch on the record. Other highlights off the album include The Dream assisted track, “Sunday Morning Jetpack” an ode to the rapper’s late grandmother which features a reflective Sean reminiscing about all the times his grandmother was there to support him and the impact she had in his growth as a young man coming of age. The track is a somber reflection as Sean recalls his fondest family memories and lament the void now felt in her absence showcasing a more tender, lesser-seen side of the Detroit emcee. The album’s closing track “Bigger Than Me” featuring vocalist Starrah and The Flint Chozen Choir serves as an epic, melodic outro to conclude the album. The track is made that much more poignant by the deliberate decision to feature The Flint Chozen Choir on the track. Back in January Big Sean’s foundation, the Sean Anderson Foundation raised $100,000 for the people of Flint, Michigan to assist the community who are still being affected by the city’s ongoing water crisis and its after-effects. Based on these tracks alone it’s clear Sean made a point to give I Decided. not only change of course in regards to content but variety as well in an attempt to switch things up for his latest release.
Clocking in at just over 50 minutes, I Decided. is a pretty standard contemporary Hip-Hop project. While the indulgent presence of superfluous guest features can at times be bit overwhelmingly, no featured artist ever quite overstays their welcome and with the exception of possibly Eminem, no emcee or guest vocalist ever manages pulls the rug out from under Big Sean and upstage him on his own album. That being said, the album does at times get a bit redundant, particularly towards the album’s latter half which isn’t helped by Sean’s somewhat monotone delivery. The album does very little in the way of pushing the envelope or challenging typical conventions popularized as of late in the Hip-Hop scene; and while Big Sean is without a doubt an accomplished emcee, he does very little to step out of his comfort zone or distinguish himself from the current status quo within Hip-Hop stylistically on this release. For the most part, I Decided. is a typical but respectable, offering from a mainstream Hip-Hop artist such as Big Sean. Between the plethora of guest features and a mile-long wrap sheet of critically acclaimed producers in the industry the album does its best to cover all of its bases, hitting as many avenues as possible which is sure to hit the mark with fans. Big Sean truly shines his brightest on I Decided. when he is allowed to drop the singy-song cadences that so many contemporary Hip-Hop artists as of late, seem trapped in and seem reluctant to shake loose from. Unfortunately, songs that adhere to the latter, tend to drag on and blend into one another like one song played on a continuous loop. However, though limited in appearances, when allowed to show off his skills, unbridled and unrestricted from contemporary and popular conventions Big Sean is able to deliver bars that hold up against some of the best in the game right now. While by no means perfect, I Decided. is probably Big Sean’s most mature and focused project to date and a testament to just how far he has grown as an artist and a person during the course of his career. He has grown from simply being Kanye West’s protégé to a fully fleshed out artist. Long-time and casual fans alike will likely something they enjoy on the album and find much replay value on I Decided. for months to come.
I Decided. is available in stores now to purchase & to stream on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music & iTunes.
Full Album Track Listing & Credits:
- Light (Feat. Jeremih)
- Bounce Back
- No Favors (Feat. Eminem)
- Jump Out the Window
- Same Time Pt. 1 (Feat. TWENTY88)
- Owe Me
- Halfway Off the Balcony
- Voices in my Head/Stick to the Plan
- Sunday Morning Jetpack (Feat. The-Dream)
- Inspire Me
- Sacrifices (Feat. Migos)
- Bigger Than Me (Feat. Flint Chozen Choir and Starrah)