Big Sean’s fourth studio album, I Decided, is undoubtedly his best one yet. Released on Feb. 3, the album builds upon the foundation of his third studio album, Dark Sky Paradise, in leaps and bounds. Here, even more than in his previous works, Big Sean delves into emotional and contemplative topics that leave the listener spellbound more by the lyrical genius than by the rhythms that accompany them.
“The concept of the album is this is me and this is an older version of me,” Big Sean said, gesturing to his album cover while appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon according to Complex. “It’s parallel right there with each other, but the name of the album is I Decided. I realized my whole life changed when I decided.”
Those decisions are what fueled the creation of this album. All of the songs explore the motives and results of Big Sean’s choices and how they have affected his life—for better or for worse. Because of this, the storytelling element of the album is crucial.
The album opens with “Intro,” a brief start that sets up the theme of the album and discusses the idea of regret through the eyes of elderly Big Sean and young Big Sean. This constant switch between the future and the present, and sometimes even the past, allows for the narrative to capture the true meaning of wisdom and necessity for introspection.
The song “Light” ft. Jeremih begins with an illuminating synth piano that conjures up the image of a spotlight being cast down on Big Sean as he urgently pleas for listeners to hold their morals and futures to a higher regard than the superficial and materialistic. Big Sean states, “Spent my whole life tryna find the light that’s at the end of the tunnel / I should have realized it was inside,” while Jeremih croons, “No matter how much they gon’ shade you / They can’t stop the shine.”
Big Sean’s emphasis on contemplation does not stop there. In “No Favors” ft. Eminem, he preaches about the pride of being self-made and self-reliant. His trademark attitude surfaces and even edges on cockiness. The song closes with elderly Sean narrating a scene between young Sean and an inferred romantic interest, implying that, if given the chance, he would have done things differently. This would be the first of several instances where elderly Sean’s flashbacks provide incredible insight.
Another song about success in the music industry, “Halfway Off The Balcony,” explores the concept of dealing with the stress and overwhelming atmosphere that comes with being famous and successful. Edging on suicidal, the most noteworthy lyric is: “I’m hangin’ halfway off the balcony / Overthinkin’ ’cause my job is way more than a salary.”
This suicidal streak is also touched upon in the songs “Jump Out The Window” and “Voices In My Head/Stick To The Plan.” While the first discusses the pain of unrequited love, the second is an open thought bubble discussing the consequences of disobeying your elders and making mistakes that they warned you about. In the former, Big Sean watches from afar as the girl he loves and admires puts up with the worst from her current significant other, ready to jump out of the window out of frustration. He sings, “We already wasted too much time / And your time is the only thing I wish was mine.” In the latter, he begins somber and contemplative and then turns combative and angry, fighting an internal battle concerning whether to stay on track and not let anyone in.
The more lighthearted tracks are current Billboard Top 100 song and club anthem, “Bounce Back” and “Moves.” These are mixed in with other semi-romantic songs—“Same Time Pt.1” Ft. Jhené Aiko and TWENTY88, which narrates a complicated romance that has resulted in an inseparable bond and “Owe Me,” a relationship once turned sour that has now restarted but doesn’t seem to have the same spring in its step as it did before. Both are cutting, honest lyrics that speak for modern day relationships.
While young Sean ignores his mother’s call in “Halfway Off The Balcony,” ignoring elderly Sean’s advice, Big Sean celebrates his mother in “Inspire Me.” The smooth, silky beat is a tribute to his mother. This ode to family resurfaces in “Sunday Morning Jetpack” ft. The-Dream, a mellow, rhythmic reflection. He reminisces about childhood memories, like eating his grandmother’s rum cake and going to prom.
The album closes with “Bigger Than Me” ft. The Flint Chozen Choir and Starrah. The beat is resounding, motivational, and uplifting, focusing on the greater picture of success. The outro of the song encompasses the theme of the album: rebirth and reincarnation into something, someone stronger and better. As Big Sean says in the final lyric of the song, “It’s that simple. It’s all about living in the moment. Period.”
Featured Image by GOOD Music