Finally Famous by Big Sean
GOOD MUSIC-DEF JAM
Young rapper makes name for self on the scene thanks to mixtapes. This happens in the mainstream and on the independent circuits. Next thing, aware of the buzz the new cat is creating, a consolidated and acknowledged artist takes them under their wing, signs the artist to their label and makes them part of their entourage. Expectations rise for the debut album, which is highly anticipated and becomes delayed more than is necessary. And then, finally, the record comes out and disappoints the mixtape fundamentalists, while the critics contradict each other. What, sounds familiar? We’ve seen it before, not so long ago, with Drake and his “Thank Me Later”. And it looks like history is repeating, almost step by step, with Detroit rapper Big Sean. The links are even purely musical: an almost identical flow, similar personalities and sounds.
“Finally Famous” suffers from almost the same thing as “Thank Me Later”: they were destined to become generational landmarks for this decade, but they have to settle for the role of “important records of the time but with a clearly stated expiration date. In this case, few could argue against it being the album of the summer, but in a few months, it’s likely that its urgency will have vanished and nobody will remember its impact. And they also share some weak points: First of all, the excessively complacent and self-indulgent tale of the rise to fame and world domination, a hobbyhorse doomed to wear so thin it becomes almost a parody in its repetitiveness. Second, the potential loss of that creative freedom displayed on his mixtapes, both of which are better than this album. And lastly, the not always successful attempt to produce a commercially viable sound, the main reason for the irregularity of this kind of projects.
That said, it’s not all bad news, quite the contrary. Big Sean hasn’t got the talent and lyrical presence of Drake, he’s an MC with fewer possibilities, which is clear from the start, but he has three things in his favour: First, No ID’s excellent production, who does a great job facilitating a jump to the pop-rap big league with a vigorous and joyous sound that integrates the trademark soul in a commercial, melodic and frankly accessible context, clearly in line with ‘Ye’s own sound. In general, this is how Lupe Fiasco should have presented himself with “Lasers” if he wanted to open up a wider audience base without losing the respect of his old followers. Second, the great skills Big Sean and his crew (with excellent cameos by The-Dream, Kanye, John Legend and Dwele among others) have of writing good songs: among some moments of mediocrity, there are some gems like “Memories Pt. 2”, “Livin’ This Life”, “Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay” and “My Last” which make this debut worthwhile. And lastly, “Finally Famous” is a more than lucid and convincing representation of 2011 hip-hop. Like it or not, the genre is in great shape and keeps looking for new stars to continue carrying the flame, and in that sense, this is a key album for 2011.