Big Sean plans to be busy off stage as well as on during his upcoming headlining tour, which kicks off Oct. 2 in Asheville, N.C.
The Detroit-based rapper -- whose debut album, "Finally Famous," bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 after its late June release and topped the Rap and R&B charts -- tells Billboard.com he'll be taking a studio bus on the road and hopes to record both his fourth mixtape, as well as get a chunk of his sophomore album under his belt.
"I came from the mixtape world and progressed from there, and I don't ever want to leave that aspect of my career behind," explains Big Sean, who also netted a Best New Artist nomination at this year's MTV Music Video Awards. "I really feel that's where I gained a lot of my fan base, and I want to keep that side fulfilled. A mixtape is one of the rawest ways of connection with your audience. You don't have to have a hit single for your mixtape. You don't have to cover it up. So I want to put something free out there for everybody, even if it's just eight songs."
Big Sean says he has several "real good" songs ready for the mixtape, along with one "for sure" beat he'll be using for his album, which came from Exile, who co-produced the "Finally Famous" song "Away From Me." "That's it, though," Big Sean adds with a laugh. "That's all I have for (the album) is one song, so you'll see it grow from one song to another 12 or 13 more to be ready for next summer."
"Finally Famous" is far from over, however. Big Sean has just rolled out the Hype Williams-directed video for his second single, "Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay," and he's hoping to get three more videos in the can -- for the tracks "Dance (A$$)," "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "High" -- before his tour. A third single hasn't been determined yet, though he notes that "a lot of radio...is already playing 'Dance.' Detroit to Chicago to L.A. and the Bay Area as well -- some of the hardest markets to break songs in, and they're already playing it. So that may naturally be the next one."
Beyond his own work, Big Sean is getting ready to shoot a video with Kelly Rowland for "Lay It On Me," his guest spot on her "Here I Am" album. And he was recently in the studio the studio with Justin Bieber working on a song. "Who knows what it's going to be for," Big Sean notes. "It could be for my mixtape, it could be for his album, it could be for my album. We'll see. But he was talking about ('Finally Famous') and he knew almost every word of it, literally. He was sitting there rapping me so much of my stuff, and I was like, 'Wow, this is Justin Bieber...' "
About the only hurdle in Big Sean's path right now is an early August arrest in Lewiston, N.Y., on sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment charges alleged by a 17-year-old female fan. A grand jury has been scheduled to determine indictments, and Big Sean and his co-defendant, Willie "Sayitainttone" Hansbro, are due back in court on Oct. 11. Big Sean is prevented from talking about the case by a judge-issued gag order, but it's clearly on his mind when he talks about his future career ambitions.
"I want to be a role model, man," he says. "I want to be an example of following your dreams and to keep inspiring people. I'm ready for that responsibility...But I want to be a human role model. Humans make mistakes. Mistakes can be the greatest teacher sometimes -- the power to creatively respond to your situation. That's what I'm learning. I want to learn and teach at the same time."