“And they want me to stop but why would I stop? Huh? I am unstoppable,” Big Sean chants on Detroit 2‘s lead track, “Why Would I Stop?”
With over a decade (and counting) in the industry, continuous growth, and improvement, Detroit’s own, Big Sean is back with his fifth studio album, Detroit 2. The album comes as the sequel to his 2012 mixtape, Detroit. The album also follows after his 2017-joint project Double or Nothing with Travis Scott. Like a Rocky movie, the album is a cinematic body of work that takes Big Sean back to his roots. Having been the underdog for so many years, Detroit 2 is one of Sean’s finest works and places him on his rightful throne as he narrates his story on his terms.
Released on Friday (Sept. 4), Detroit 2 holds 21 tracks and a video for the album’s second lead single, “Harder Than My Demons.” The album contains a lengthy list of features from artists such as Jhené Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign, Post Malone, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, Wale, Anderson .Paak and so many more. Detroit 2 also appeals like a motion picture with stories from legendary figures Stevie Wonder, Dave Chappelle, and Erykah Badu.
Essentially, Detroit 2 utilizes some elements of time travel. Big Sean begins by taking listeners to the past revealing that he was diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 19 on “Lucky Me.” He then completely erupts. Utterly introspective yet explosive, Sean goes completely off the deep end. His tenacity along with the production from Hit-Boy easily makes this a top 3 track. The inspired rap continues on the chilling “Deep Reverence.” On the album’s lead single, listeners hear the voice of the late rapper and icon, “Nipsey Hussle.” Sean gets more personal than he’s ever been. While discussing the pressures of life he speak on his suicidal thoughts, depression and even experiencing a miscarriage with Jhené.
There is a level of… inspiration and spark in Sean’s energy throughout each song. On the radio-appealing “Wolves,” Sean and Post Malone reflect on their upbringing. They draw parallels about their families and the way they survived to same way wolves survive and live together. Another top 3 record arrives with the utterly groovy “Body Language.” The track pays homage to and samples Detroit record, “Soulful Moaning” by Shawn Harris. Sean taps both Jhené and Ty Dolla $ign to create the satisfying 3-piece combo that listeners greatly deserve. While not taking the title of “Twenty88” on the track the two yet again make magic. Sexually explicit and raw the two lovers gallivant about their… steamy shared experiences. He continues to bring the polished, mature bars with the fast-paced second album single, “Harder Than My Demons.”
Other tracks like the Young Thug-assisted “Respect It” and the Travis Scott-assisted “Lithuania” provide mainstream-appeal that deliver that trademark Sean energy. While very mentally centered and wise, Sean still delivers that vintage Sean Don flow on “ZTFO.” Rapping about maintaining his energy and directing the bad vibes away from him. Friend and collaborator Travis Scott joins him with various ad-libs to add the zest to the meditative-focused track. The flow is intentional as he makes it clear that his accessibility is limited and his energy is not to be disrupted.
“I can’t invite you random hoes to my house ’cause your energy is too whack
I can’t waste the sex on you (Woah, woah) and give you everything you can’t give me back (Straight up)
If we don’t have the same vision, then we can’t exchange contacts (Brr)
I don’t get mad, I don’t react, I just relax (Relax, yeah).”Big sean – ZTFO
As the album continues, thoughtfulness, legacy, and progression are notable themes throughout Detroit 2. On another top 3 track, “Guard Your Heart,” Sean, Wale, Anderson .Paak, and Earlly Mac deliver one of the best moments on the entire album. Almost like a conversation between the four, they each dive into their thoughts and speak on the current state of the world, staying uplifted, and continuing to push forward for a better future. Here, Wale completely washes everyone on the track with his verse. It is truly one of the most notable moments on the project.
There are moments though the album where it feels a bit redundant, repetitive, and unnecessary. With 21 songs, obviously some songs are not necessarily needed. For example, on “Full Circle,” Sean again looks at his life and everything he has accomplished. The same occurs on “FEED” where he hones in on his life goals while questioning his purpose and life decisions. On “Time In,” “Twenty88” returns (FINALLY) but much of the song is overshadowed with Sean’s awful attempt at singing. He goes full R&B mode but it is a pretty forgettable track.
As the album nears its end the heat picks up on “The Baddest.” Sampling “Gojira Tai Mosura” from the Godzilla vs. Mothra Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Sean reminds everyone who counted him out, how foolish that was to do so. Produced by No I.D., “The Baddest” is another standout track from the sound to delivery. Continuing the ongoing collaborations, Sean teams up with Lil Wayne on “Don Life.” Sampling the late Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature,” Wayne washes the entire beat with ease. The momentum immediately flows into the album’s longest track, “Friday Night Cypher. The cypher goes for nearly 10 minutes and bridges the generational gaps including some notable Motor City artists of today and yesterday. Ultimately, while the flows are great, the cyphers is a bit confusing with the various production changes and switch-ups.
Detroit 2 ends with the triumphant “Still I Rise.” Who else to end the album with other than Dom Kennedy? Both Sean and Dom focus on putting their family and people on to the game, putting yourself and utilizing every win and loss to help build your legacy and propel yourself to the next level of your life. Regardless of the demons you’ve faced or the trouble that tried to take you out, the message is simply to keep going and never give up. The song also utilizes the beautiful background vocals from the anointed Kierra Sheard.
Overall, Detroit 2 is one of Big Sean’s best works yet. Fully inspired, motivational, and uplifting, Sean uses his flaws and insecurities to tell his story. He confidently and consistently owns his truth with every battle (whether silent or public). Detroit 2 is Big Sean no longer politely asking for his respect. He takes it by force. He tells all of his trolls and doubter to put some respect on his name. Having been providing the soundtrack of many people’s lives for over a decade, Detroit 2 elevates Sean and finally places him into realm to be considered an elite artist. He uses his openness and vulnerability to tell his story his way and it is truly great to hear. While every song is not needed, even the not so great tracks are tolerable. Big Sean is back and better than ever! Detroit 2 receives an 8/10.
Top 5 Tracks from Detroit 2:
- Lucky Me
- Guard Your Heart
- Body Language
- Deep Reverence
- The Baddest
Honorable Mentions: ZTFO, Everything That’s Missing, Respect It, Don Life, Why Would I Stop?