Big Sean Explains How the 'Crazy Times Right Now' Affected His New Album

Big Sean

Big Sean

"It’s crazy, because life is really just a series of right and wrong decisions, you know?” says veteran hitmaker Big Sean of his fourth studio album, I Decided (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam, Feb. 3).

It’s a kinder, more philosophical approach from the MC whose last album was launched with the ex-girlfriend (Naya Rivera) and hater-bashing single “I Don’t F— With You,” which went triple-platinum and reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. 

As he aims for his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, the newly reflective 28-year-old rapper born Sean Anderson talks finding inspiration, his long relationship with Kanye West and how he’s getting political in 2017.

Do you have any rituals before you head into the studio?
I meditate before every recording session. I started when I was 19 or 20. My mom put me on to it — by 2014, I was meditating daily. Right away, I began to get my stuff in order, my career. That was right around when I was working seriously on Dark Sky Paradise. I realized that being right on the inside is the key to everything going right on the outside.

More than your other albums, it feels like I Decided has an overarching concept.
The story is about a guy who went through his life feeling like he failed at everything: love, family, dreams and aspirations. But he gets a second chance to do his life over, with the wisdom of an old man. That’s why, on the cover of the album, I’m on the right, and an older version of me is on the left. If people felt like they were on their second chance, they might look at things differently.

Kanye West isn’t featured on I Decided. Was he still part of the creative process?
For the past nine years, he has been grooming me to stand on my own creatively. But his energy and presence are still all over the album: On “Bounce Back,” he added vocals -- Kanye’s the one saying, “We’re the real ones.” On “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” he suggested adding The-Dream. It’s cool that he’s still this heavily invested in me.

Are there any collaborators you wouldn’t have expected?
[Coldplay’s] Chris Martin reached out to me, and we got in the studio. I’m glad to call him one of my new friends. We did a great song that’s not on this album, but I’m sure it will eventually come out.

On “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” you say, “In times like these we need inspiration.” Why is music especially important right now, in this political climate?
Clearly, people are going through crazy times right now -- not just a new president, but a new energy. So many are unhappy and putting their time into things like the Women’s March. I hope people can get the feelings they need from this album and that they can then help affect the world in a positive way.  

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 18 issue of Billboard.


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