DARK SKY PARADISE
1 Week On The Billboard 200
Led by the boisterous breakup anthem “I Don’t F— With You” featuring E-40 — No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart — Big Sean charmed his way to the top with his third album, Dark Sky Paradise. The G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam release netted the 27-year-old his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and best-ever first-week sales (173,000 units, according to Nielsen Music). Collaborating with an A-list crew that also included Kanye West, DJ Mustard, Drake and John Legend, Big Sean deepened his imprint on 2015 with “Blessings” and “One Man Can Change the World,” featuring West and Legend and nominated for a best rap/sung collaboration Grammy.
BIG SEAN Dark Sky Paradise was recorded in the studio I built in my house. No I.D. gave me the idea, saying I needed to be able to work on my own terms. It was the best thing I ever did. This time I didn’t let anything but the music be my No. 1 focus. That’s the difference between this and my other projects: I got to live out the music.
NO I.D., executive vp A&R, Def Jam: This was about Sean growing into his perspective, into his taste and being comfortable with his identity beyond just being the young kid found by Kanye. As an executive, part of the recording process is knowing when to get out of the way and let the artist’s energy take control. Sean really graduated in my eyes.
STEVE BARTELS, CEO, Def Jam: There’s a texture to Sean’s sonic delivery that people like, talk about and then pass word on to their friends.
NO I.D. I really fought for “I Don’t F— With You” as the single. This record was very timely.
BIG SEAN My privacy is out there on this album — all my ups, downs, flaws, best days, worst days — and people were able to connect. Making this album was emotional because my grandma was dying. She was a true OG if I ever met one; a big influence. I’m happy she got to see it start happening for me.
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of Billboard.