Big Sean — Hall of Fame Album Review by Jay Fingers

Big Sean - Hall of Fame

Title: Hall of Fame
Artist: Big Sean
Label: GOOD Music / Def Jam
Genre(s): Hip-hop
Released: August 27, 2013
Social: Twitter

A few weeks back, not-so-GOOD Music artist Big Sean leaked a song to Teh Internets. And we all know the story from there: the song was “Control,” and it featured a pretty good verse from Jay Electronica and an earth-shattering one from Kendrick Lamar. Whether you were impressed with Kendrick’s verse or not, it’s impossible to deny that its impact was felt far and wide. Further, it was telling that “Control” would not appear on Sean’s sophomore release Hall of Fame. “Sample clearance issues” was the alleged culprit, but the prevailing thought was that the song was axed because, well, Kendrick killed Sean on his own shit.

Being overshadowed by his guests is but one of the issues Sean must contend with on Fame. The album, while competently produced, too often finds Sean rhyming over beats that are ill-suited to his anemic voice and flow, and when he does find his vocal footing, well, he really doesn’t talk about much.

For the most part, the Detroit native sticks to the usual trifecta of topics: money, clothes, and hoes. Songs with interchangeable titles “Guap” and “Mula” would be nearly indistinguishable if it weren’t for scene stealing performances from guests Meek Mill (“My whip’s so retarded I handicap park it”) and especially 2 Chainz (“If you shoot me, you famous/If I shoot you, I’m brainless/So I’m about to be dumb as fuck/Cuz God blesses fools and babies”). Nicki Minaj and Juicy J spit aptly freaky tales on the rubbery “MILF,” but the jam’s elastic groove is simply too much for Sean’s own laughable attempt at “big dick” talk.

The “get money” hymn “10 2 10” not only has a hook that’s both stupid and borderline offensive, it has a bell-heavy, John Carpenter-esque beat that’s just too chunky for Sean’s vocals. He’s swallowed whole by the gargantuan production, something that occurs far too often (for more examples, see the Young Jeezy-assisted “It’s Time” and trite player anthem “Mona Lisa”).

And while Hall of Fame is not completely terrible, the bright spots have little or nothing to do with Sean himself. Lil Wayne and R&B ingénue Jhene Aiko save the bubbly cautionary tale “Beware.” Miguel completely owns future radio staple “Ashley,” relegating Sean to “featuring” status on his own song. And No ID provides soulful production on the dusty, 90s throwback “First Chain,” which boasts superlative verses from Kid Cudi and Nas.

Admittedly, Sean does a good job on album opener “Nothing is Stopping You” and its follow up, “Fire” (which reminds one of conspicuously absent mentor Kanye West’s “Champion” from his 2007 album Graduation), but those songs can do little to save the abject mess that comes afterward.

Big Sean had lofty expectations for Hall of Fame. That’s not the issue at hand. The problem here is the execution. If he diversifies his subject matter and chooses production that fits well with his frail voice, then perhaps his next album might actually be considered a contender for the hip-hop hall of fame.

Instead of a Big Yawn.

Grade: C

Best Tracks

“Beware” (featuring Lil Wayne and Jhene Aiko)

“Ashley” (featuring Miguel)

“First Chain” (featuring Nas and Kid Cudi)

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