Sun God 2011: Big Sean

    “This album has such a variety of music, it has a universal sound to it,” Big Sean said. “But you know, it has a sound much like Wu Tang’s sound, Kanye’s albums. But it’s something I feel like people will be able to grind to, live to, party to, cry to, talkin’ bout doin’ what you love to do, you know, domestic love. The real shit. And it is really important to me to keep a sense of lyricism, and all the songs have great raps, but there is such a thing as over-rapping on songs. I think a lot of people don’t understand — sometimes you can rap too much. It takes real artistry to make a song that perfectly relates to somebody, rather than you showing off how good you can rap.”

    But Big Sean understands the importance of hustle, swag and good rap — it’s how he got signed to Kanye West’s GOOD music label a few years back.

    “It’s a crazy story,” he said. “I used to go to this radio station soon as I was old enough to drive, and there was this show where emcees would bat- tle and the winner would get to rap on air for 30 minutes over some instrumentals. So I did that for a few years and then Kanye was down promoting his album — it was Late Registration, this was a long time ago — and I was actually a telemarketer, so I was cashing my $100 check. And my homie called me while I was in the bank Saturday morning and was all, ‘Hey, you listening to the radio?’ and I was like ‘No man. What’s up?” and he was like ‘Kanye’s down there playing his album, if you go down there and rap for him, he’ll probably sign you, cuz.”

    West wasn’t exactly keen on the idea.

    “I asked if I could rap for him and he wasn’t really trying to hear it, he said he didn’t have time,” Sean said. “But then I was like ‘Please man, you’re like one of my heroes.’ And he was like, ‘Alright man, well you gotta do it while we walkin’ out the sta- tion. You got 16 bars.’ And that’s the equivalent of like … one verse. And so I started rapping as we’re walk- ing out of the station, and at first he wasn’t even paying attention, but then I guess I said a couple of lines that he really liked. And he just really liked it and I ended up rapping for like, 10 minutes straight.”

    From those 10 minutes, Big Sean launched his career. It was a slow start — after two more years of exchanging music back and forth with West, Big Sean graduated from high school with a 3.7 GPA and enrolled in Michigan State University, set on pursuing a degree in advertising. But after being signed to Kanye’s label, he dropped out.

    “It was like, the first day of class and I didn’t go,” he said.

    Turning out tracks turned out to be a lot of work — especially when working under the wings of one of the industry’s top hip-hop artists.

    “Just working with Kanye — it’s really nerve-wrecking working with him in the studio,” Big Sean said. “He’s really particular, so you don’t want to be like half-assin’ it. It made me nervous to be around him, but as time went on, he became more and more my friend and mentor. And I used to play music and he’d be like, ‘Man, it’s not good enough’ and now I play music and he’s like ‘Man, it’s the best. You gonna be one of the best.’”

    And though fame’s been a long time coming, it seems to be happen- ing all at once for Big Sean — in addition to dropping his album this summer, he’s going on tour to open for longtime friend and fellow Sun God Festival performer, Wiz Khalifa.

    “Wiz is like one of my best friends in the game,” Big Sean said. “We’ve known each other for a few years, it’s always nice touring with your friends. There’s going to be a lot of weed-alige there, I’m sure [at their Sun God appearances, and on their tour]. Around, in the atmosphere.”

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