By Christopher Brocker
Assistant Music Director
Big Sean returns with a sequel to his 2012 mixtape Detroit with a full-length studio album, Detroit 2. The last project we heard from Sean was his collaboration with Metro Boomin on Double Or Nothing in 2017.
The collaboration seemed intriguing; however, the project itself was disappointing. Earlier that same year Sean released his album I Decided.
Detroit 2’s rollout began earlier this year, but the album appeared to be pushed back. The album title is in tribute to Sean’s hometown which he proudly represents.
On the first half of the track, Sean dives into his personal life and details his experience of being diagnosed with heart disease at 19. This is one of the most vulnerable anecdotes on the entire record.
The beat gradually picks up momentum halfway through and so does Sean’s delivery. The beat switches keep the song entertaining throughout.
Featuring the late Nipsey Hussle, “Deep Reverence” is one of the standout tracks on the album; It’s also the lead single off of Detroit 2.
The lyrics, “F*** rap I’m a street legend,” from Hussle are impactful considering the respect he earned before and after his passing. His verse is brief, but one of my favorites on the project.
Sean gives a considerable long verse here and speaks on a lot of personal issues, including a miss carriage with his partner.
Sean speaks on having squashed beef with Kendrick Lamar after the passing of Hussle and has a very mature delivery on this track, giving one of his best performances on the album.
However, Sean is often criticized for corny lyrics has some once again. Lines such as, “Most of the girls I know addicted to social media, all the time they put in, they could’ve wrote encyclopedias,” are difficult to take seriously.
This song has a dark and atmospheric beat with hard-hitting drums. The song works a lot better with Post Malone, but I wasn’t a fan of his verse. Post Malones style, however, does fit the song a lot better than Sean’s.
“Wolves” placement on this album feels very out of place and I could do without it.
This is a sensual track featuring Ty Dolla Sign and Jhene Aiko. This song samples fellow Detroit artist Shawn Harris’ “Soulful Moaning.”
Ty Dolla Sign handles the chorus, and as usual, delivers a great performance. Aiko also contributes great vocals and an entertaining verse. This is an enjoyable R&B song, but it could have done without Sean’s presence.
Harder Than My Demons
This is the second single from Detroit 2 and one of the shorter songs on the album. The song has a bouncy beat with looped soulful vocals. The beat also samples “Some Cut.” The lyrics themselves aren’t very memorable other than, “I don’t even do flu shots.”
Big Sean tries to fit too many syllables into spaces that don’t need them. However, he does bring a lot of energy to the track. The song definitely could have been fleshed out more.
ZTFO and Lithuania
Both of these songs were previewed by Travis Scott months prior. “ZTFO” is a shorter song that includes Scott only on adlibs. The hook delivered by Sean is enjoyable; however, the verses aren’t special.
The track could have been fleshed out more if Scott had delivered a verse. “Lithuania” for example, benefits from including more from Scott. This song has great replay value because of Scott’s presence and the experimental beat. Sean’s verse, however, is forgettable.
Guard Your Heart
This is my favorite song off the album because of its gospel feel and Anderson.Paak’s performance. Notably, Big Sean touches on the beef with Drake and Pusha T and being close with both.
Sean expresses some survivor’s guilt representing Detroit, while also living outside the city. Wale also gives a great performance touching on racial issues in America with the verse, “Got tired of white silence, so the riots started,” and also dissing Drew Brees for his comments on kneeling during the anthem.
Key Wane produced this track and raps the lead-off verse. The beat itself has a piano with a boom bat styled beat. Sean gives one of his best rap performances on the album, referencing personal experiences and reflecting on his career.
Diddy provides adlibs and spoken word segments throughout the song. I could do without the singing portions of the song performed by Sean, but this is one of the most solid tracks on the album.
This track has sampled horns that dominate most of the track. This is one of the most enjoyable beats on the entire record. Sean displays various flows and rides the beat well.
“So turnt up with my team in the huddle, it’s a mosh pit,” is one of my favorite visuals Sean creates. Sean also references Tupac’s fight in the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
The song itself takes a huge swing and doesn’t fully connect. The posturing displayed here and across the album falls short. The hook feels forced as well.
The beat samples Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” This is easily one of my favorite beats on the entire album. Sean delivers an energetic performance here which is appreciated.
Lil Wayne is featured and gives an adequate performance, despite the energy given, but the song isn’t quite a banger.
Friday Night Cypher
The highly anticipated Cypher features Detroit’s legends Eminem and Royce da 5’9”. Newer artists like Tee Grizzley, Kash Doll and Sada Baby are also featured. The track is over 9 minutes in length which hurts its replay value, however, it’s dedicated to Detroit and hardcore fans of the rappers featured.
The Cypher is enjoyable, however, there aren’t as many quotable lyrics as one would expect.
Detroit 2 is a bloated album that should have been consolidated. Within the streaming era, lengthy projects have become the norm (look no further than Drake’s last few albums.)
Fans of Sean will likely be pleased to hear a lengthy release due to his absence, however, for casual listeners, the length is discouraging.
The production across the board is impressive and the high production value is evident. The album is loaded with high profile features and interludes with Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, and Stevie Wonder.
Sean is outshined by his collaborators and production on most of the album. Despite this, Detroit 2 is still one of the better projects Sean has released, although I will likely only return for a fourth of the songs.
Featured image via Detroit 2 album artwork.