Big Sean has proven himself a master of the party-starting anthem since his 2009 debut Finally Famous. But for his fourth studio LP, Big Sean is aiming higher with a concept album inspired by the idea of rebirth. “That’s not something that people expect from a Big Sean project,” the rapper tells EW of I Decided., which he began recording in the Summer of 2015, “so I’m happy we are delivering something unexpected. I’m excited to push the culture and push my artistry to the limit.”
Big Sean says his commitment to having a well-defined concept is due, in part, by his love of old-school soul and R&B music. “I was just at this Motown exhibit with Berry Gordy with my mom,” recalls the Detroit-native, 27. “He was talking about Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and the Temptations and how one of the things they did was inspire people. They inspired people to have a good time, to do better — to be a better version of themselves. That really stuck with me. That’s what I want to do, too.”
As for the album’s overarching story, Sean is delivering a tale of a man who gets reborn — something he personally identifies with. “I [told my friend], ‘Sometimes I feel like I was an old man and didn’t succeed in life and asked for a second chance, and this is my second chance.’ He was like, ‘Make that the album.’ People who can be inspired by it, that’s who I’m doing it for. Everybody else can f— off or whatever.”
And while the goal is lofty, musically, he’s sticking with his proven sound: heavy trap beats and endlessly quotable rhymes. “You don’t want to overdo it. I’m not trying to sit here and preach to people. You can get [a message] across with a song like ‘Bounce Back.’ We’ve all bounced back from something before, so that fits my story perfect, but you never would have known that from hearing it by itself.”
His last release, 2015’s Dark Sky Paradise featured guest appearances from Kanye West, Drake, Lil Wayne and more. So far, Decided. includes A-Listers Chance the Rapper and Jeremih (they both contribute “Living Single,” out now), but the budding star’s Instagram hints that many more names will be on the final release. Recent posts include studio photos with Pharrell, Bruno Mars, and even Diane Warren, who confirmed to Rolling Stone in February that they were writing together.
Watch the video for “Bounce Back,” off the LP, below. I Decided. is out on Feb. 3.