Big Sean – Hall of Fame
Record Label: GOOD Music
Release Date: August 26, 2013
It hasn't even been a month since a certain Big Sean song dropped and took the rap world by storm. The excitement surrounding the song, unsurprisingly, had little to do with Sean himself. No, it was Kendrick Lamar's earth-shattering verse on “Control” that reminded today's young rap stars of an important, seemingly forgotten staple of the genre: competitiveness. It's no secret that rap has been in a bit of a complacent spot for a few years, with the most exciting feuds and beefs coming in the form of Drake vs. Chris Brown, Frank Ocean vs. Chris Brown and....basically anyone who crosses Chris Brown's path. But Kendrick sought to remind his friends that he's going to do all he can to be at the top, and his verse only further solidified his spot up there. Big Sean makes it clear on Hall of Fame that he's aiming for that top spot as well, even if the results don't necessarily back up the ambition.
You can't say Big Sean isn't hungry; the guy works hard and immediately let's you know it on album opener “Nothing Is Stopping You,” a slow burner that works underneath Big Sean's slick flow. He goes through a few of his experiences coming up in the game, and leaves us with a bit of a self deprecating line in “All the faith that I have just ain't all the faith that I need.” It's a rare moment of weakness coming from a guy that typically raps about how he's the best. Immediately following the sentiment, “Fire” kicks off into an uplifting, massive beat that comes together with Big Sean's rhymes to create one of the best hip-hop songs of the year. Unfortunately, the album essentially peaks at track two.
The following track, “10 2 10,” is almost offensively bad enough to warrant shutting off the album and never returning to it again. Big Sean yelps out an absolutely obnoxious chorus over one of the most generic trap beats imaginable, and just as the horrible taste of the track leaves begins to fade, a horrible mismatch of artists occurs on “You Don't Know,” which features Ellie Goulding, and drags you right back down to wanting this thing to just end.
The album is not all bad following “Fire,” as songs like “Beware,” “Toyota Music,” and “Mona Lisa” break up the pacing between the less desirable tracks. After the intolerable “MILF,” the poor songs become fewer in number, but getting to the back end of the album is far more of a struggle than it should be. Even then, it's hard not to commend Big Sean for trying to tackle a bit more serious subject matter than we're used to seeing from him, and the album closer “All Figured Out” ends things on a pretty good note.
Regardless, there are more than enough glaring problems with the album to keep it from being an artistic statement that warrants any sort of accolade. Big Sean's flow is the same as it has always been, and even though he does try to take his subject matter to a different place at times, his wordplay is still painfully boring and stagnant. Big Sean has never been too interesting of a character, and on Hall of Fame he tries to expand his narrative to become the kind of guy that you want to care about. The only problem is that his skills as a rapper and artist can't back up the kind of person he wants to be perceived as. He has pushed himself to get to this point in his career, but when the results are this mediocre, it's hard to give him praise for anything other than trying.