Home was where Big Sean’s heart, and body, were on Sunday (July 31) night.
A day after performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, the rapper was back in his home town of Detroit to close out the eighth edition of AEG’s Mo Pop festival, a two-day event held for the first time at the city’s Hart Plaza, also the site of the Movement electronic music festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival.
Big Sean’s performance — his first in Detroit since 2017 — offered nearly 75 minutes of love both given and received, as he declared it “an absolute honor, an absolute pleasure to be from this city.” He would later tell the crowd of more than 15,000 that it was “one of the greatest nights of my life…a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” and he filled the show with a variety of special treats for the occasion.
None was more moving than when Big Sean brought his parents and older brother on stage to pay homage to his grandmother Mildred Leonard, whose World War II U.S. Army battalion (she was one of the first Black female captains in the entire service) was recently honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. After embraces all around, Big Sean pulled out his 2015 single “One Man Can Change the World,” which the rapper said was about, and certainly inspired by, his grandmother.
The hometown locale meant additions to the setlist he’s been playing at festivals this year, including Coachella and Osheaga. In particular he used the occasion to reach back to early mixtapes such as Detroit and Finally Famous Vol. 3: Big for tracks such as “Higher,” “Mula” and “Supa Dupa Lemonade,” reminiscing about recording some of them not far from the festival site in downtown Detroit. “I’m not doing these songs anywhere in the world now,” he noted. “I’m just doing them here.” Big Sean also offered a preview of his next album, performing a late-show snippet of a new song (no title was given) and promising that it is “some of the best sh-t I’ve made.”
And, of course, he brought out girlfriend Jhené Aiko — who performed earlier in the evening and is pregnant with the couple’s first child — for duets on “Beware” and “I Know.” They hugged and kissed and professed their love for each other during the segment, and Big Sean even let the crowd know that Detroit was the first place that the two of them…well, you know.
He closed things out with a hat trick of “Blessings,” “I Don’t F— With You” and “Bounce Back,” taking off his T-shirt and throwing it into the crowd during the latter. He left the crowd with another promise — that it won’t take another five years to bring him back home. “We’ll see y’all on tour,” he said, though not elaborating on when that might be, either.
The afterglow was sweet as well, as Big Sean quickly tweeted on Sunday, “Just had one of my best shows in my life in Detroit!!!! Thank you!”
Just had one of the best shows in my life in Detroit!!!! Thank you!
— Sean Don (@BigSean) August 1, 2022