Big Sean recalled going to see Kanye West's Glow In The Dark Tour stop in May of 2008 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the big arena in the Detroit suburbs. "I've envisioned playing there ever since then," the 24-year-old Motor City MC noted -- and he got his chance to do just that on Saturday (Dec. 1), with a guest-filled hometown headlining show before 9,000 exuberant fans who were keyed in to not only the big hits from his "Finally Famous" debut album and G.O.O.D. Music's "Cruel Summer" collection but also early fare such as "Too Fake" and "Supa Dupa Memories."
"It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster," Big Sean noted afterwards -- so much so that he broke into tears during "Memories," sitting down on the stage for a minute to compose himself. "I'm not faking it, man," he told the crowd, while after the show he recalled that, "I felt these tears coming and I was like, 'Oh, hell no, man. Don't do it man!' But I couldn't help it. It was just a human emotion."
The 24-year-old MC's fans certainly felt it, boosting him with chants of "Big Sean!" while he got himself back together.
Of course, the show also came on the tail end of a long, exhausting week that saw Big Sean in Europe with Kanye West and the G.O.O.D. Music crew, returning to Detroit on Friday and spending much of Saturday afternoon rehearsing for the night's show. It all paid off, however, with an electrifying hour-and-50-minute concert that announced Big Sean's arrival as a big stage playa, rocking the house with fierce rhymes and a confident, commanding presence that more than held its own alongside a formidable parade of special guests.
Following opening sets by Detroit favorites such as Danny Brown, Paradime (from Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band) and John Connor -- and with Royce Da' 5'9" and D12's Denaun Porter and Bizarre watching from the wings -- Big Sean started off with "Guap," the first single from his sophomore album, "Hall of Fame," which he's in the midst of recording and expects to release in early 2013. The rest of the show focused on "Finally Famous" and his latest mixtape "Detroit," though he went deep with his first guest, good pal Mike Posner, on the early favorite "Smoke & Drive." The two were then joined by Sayitainttone and Earlly Mac for the "Detroit" track "Woke Up" before J. Cole -- proclaiming that "There's no other rapper in Detroit who can do this other than Eminem" -- recreated his guest appearance on "24 Karats of Gold," then gave Big Sean a potty break while he did his own hit "Can't Get Enough." Pusha T for "Don't Like" and then "Mercy" from "Cruel Summer," while Common made a brief appearance for a bit of his hit "The Light" and Nicki Minaj made her "Dance (A$$)" cameo via video.
The roof just about blew off The Palace for the encore, though, when Kanye West -- whose late arrival delayed the show's start by about 40 minutes -- strode out for the "Cruel Summer" hit "Clique," also joined by Common, Pusha T and Teyana Taylor. The quintet ended the show by rolling through a reprise of "Mercy."
"Man, it was awesome. It's a wonder they came," Big Sean gushed later. "I'm sure people have a lot of things to do...so for them to really take the time out, come here and support me and just do this all for me and for the city, it really means a lot, man. Detroit... doesn't get a lot of gliss and glam, so I think that was something everyone here really enjoyed."
Big Sean also used the night to announce his Sean Michael Anderson Foundation, a charity that will focus on education and school-based initiatives in Detroit. He plans to announce its structure and projects in the next couple of months and said he hopes it will become a positive force for change around his hometown.
"We're just really focusing on education and giving back to the city, man," he explains. "There's been a lot of public schools closing all over the place, so we wanted to help these kids out as much as we can in our own way. I know how important my school was to my upbringing. Where would I be without all the poetry, all the art, all the extra care I got? I always got good grades in school, so I want these kids to know how important good grades are. I want to give them extra supplies they need, give them motivation. We've brought a lot of good people on board to help run the foundation and I think it's going to be successful and I hope the city will recognize it and be proud of it."
As he wrapped up a post-show meet 'n' greet, Big Sean was obviously wrung out but still game to "go party for a little bit. Going to sleep is the last thing I want to do, even though that's what my body wants to do." He was planning a 36-hour rest, but the looming "Hall of Fame" will have him back at work sooner rather than later. "We're pretty far along," he said of the album. "I've just got to get my mind from touring mode back into recording mode. I'm just so excited for people to hear the new (music) I've been working on."