Big Sean Talks Kanye West, XXXTentacion, Anxiety and Updates on New Music: 'The Best It's Ever Sounded'

Big Sean
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Big Sean attends NAMI West LA Moroccan Gala Honoring Jhene Aiko at on May 20, 2018 in Los Angeles.

Big Sean says scrapping a planned spring tour of North America has proven to be the exact right thing to do.

The rapper announced the tour cancelation on Feb. 26, explaining that he was "in a deep creative space and decided I need to stay focused in the studio." And the move has paid dividends, he says.

"I've just been taking a little more time off for myself and recording, getting my album right," Big Sean told Billboard before a Motown Jam benefit he and his mother, Myra Anderson, hosted Thursday night in Detroit to raise money for the Motown Museum's expansion efforts. "I felt like that was more important (than touring). I've been around a lot of great people when they make their albums -- for example, Kanye (West), he's not doing anything else while he's making his album. He's 100 percent focused. So I can't tour and do all that and expect to get out the type of product I want to have out because I'm not giving 100 percent of my energy to it."

Big Sean also acknowledged that he also "had some things to work out in my head...I never really took the time out to nurture myself, to take care of myself. It took me a lot of depression having a lot of anxiety to realize something was off. I've been getting myself together, getting my mind right. So I have been taking better care of myself and...not only am I bringing my best self to the music but I'm bringing my best self to the table, to my city, to my fans, to the people who are about me." The music, he said, is "the best it's ever sounded," but he's not revealing any release date yet for his follow-up to the 2017 one two punch of I Decided and his collaboration with Metro Boomin', Double Or Nothing.

"I'm not 100 percent ready," Big Sean noted. "I haven't been dropping anything, really. I'm just working on it. It's a process, really. When I'm ready, I’m gonna be ready -- I mean, I'm gonna be ready, you know what I'm saying?"

The Motown Jam was hosted by the rapper and his mother under the auspices of their Sean Anderson Foundation. Part of Big Sean's D.O.N. (Detroit's On Now) Weekend  in his home town -- which also includes a Fashion Mogul Challenge and other public events -- the $1,000-a-head fundraiser included some up-close-and-personal time with the MC, along with a photo opp and an autographed CD and a chance to sing with a live band in Motown's famed Studio A. It also gave Big Sean a chance to wax a bit about what the legendary record company means to him.

"Motown is just the foundation of a lot of music today. It's the foundation of the city of Detroit," he explained. "It's like the equivalent of Henry Ford making the assembly line -- it's literally that important to the world. That music can't be duplicated, even with all the fancy equipment we got now, all the effects, all the Auto-Tune, all those thing, you can't duplicate that sound, that soul that they made right here in this house, man."

Big Sean is serving on the Motown Museum's National Legacy council and added that, "I feel a responsibility to keep it alive. It's that important. I feel like just like our stories from our grandparents have to be kept alive, so do the stories of Motown through our city and throughout the world.

Big Sean hasn't been spending all his time at home, however. He did travel to Wyoming for the star-studded listening party for West's new Ye album. Big Sean also has a sense of what else West is up to, musically, but says that, "I'm not gonna give too many details." And like the rest of the rap world, Big Sean is mourning the death of XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot on June 18 in Florida.

"I don't feel anybody deserves to die young, especially if it's a senseless act of violence," he said. "Nobody's deserving of that. I feel like he was a raw, talented artist and I feel that we only saw a glimpse of it. He has real fans and real people that love him, so I'm sure he's gonna live on forever."