SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a common misconception that sex, drugs and partying are primary themes in rap music. Big Sean proved otherwise at The Masonic Thursday. The Detroit rapper known for opening up about his life took time to let fans know he’s in a better place.
His new acclaimed album, I Decided, acknowledges his battle with depression. The Masonic show shed light on his vulnerability, but that was outshined by the positivity Big Sean demanded.
Backed by a drummer and support from his longtime producers, Big Sean walked out to “Intro,” I Decided‘s first song. Two other new tracks, “Voices In My Head/ Stick To The Plan” and “No Favors,” followed and reinforced the statement of just how hard Sean has fought for his place in the music industry.
Sean cranked up the energy with his feature on RL Grime’s “Kingpin.” Then he threw it back to 2012’s compilation album Cruel Summer with his verses from “Mercy” and “Clique.” By this point the show was full steam ahead.
He returned to I Decided with “Jump Out The Window” before shifting to material from Twenty88, his newest project with R&B singer and girlfriend Jhené Aiko. Sean played “Same Time Pt. 1” and “On The Way” from their 2016 self-titled debut, as well as early collaboration “I Know.”
“Owe Me” recalled the destruction a girl once caused in his life, while “Hallway Off The Balcony” stated that for Sean, sex and money are nowhere near as important as love. Sean electronically lowered the pitch of his voice for the latter.
Then Big Sean made a 180-degree turn into his feature on Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like.” And just like that, the show went from somber, to party-mode. The pandemonium continued with his latest, “Moves,” and “Dance (A$$),” the radio-bumping hit that launched his career in 2011. He would go on to make another left turn into uplifting material but later returned to egotistical-Sean for the encore with party anthem “I Don’t Fuck With You.”
Atlanta rapper MadeinTYO, who opened the show, came out for a remixed version of his song “Skateboard P.” After the quick guest appearance, Sean took the time to pay homage to Bay Area rappers who influenced his music, including Iamsu! and E-40. That led into Sean’s self-absorbed verse from Drake’s 2013 track “All Me,” and “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” a slower tune.
“I know we’re all here at the same time, but at different places in our lives,” Sean said. “But we’re all here now and we’re on the same wavelength. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The speech led to a slew of positive songs like “Blessings,” “Bigger Than Me,” “Bounce Back” and “Champions,” a track by Big Sean’s mentor, Kanye West.
“You’re going to get to a point in your life where you’ve got ideas, you’ve got dreams, you’ve got goals, and you’ve got to surround yourself with the right people,” Sean said. “Don’t be around them people who got that negativity, and people like ‘I don’t know man, that sounds a little risky.’ Life is about taking risks. If you don’t ever take a risk in your life you ain’t going where you need to go. Surround yourself with the people who are going to lift you up. People always look for the perfect friend, be that perfect friend.”
“Bigger Than Me,” I Decided’s closer, emphasized that Big Sean is happier with himself, but realizes he has room to grow. The show itself showed how Sean has matured as a rapper.
Atlanta rapper MadeinTYO kicked off the night with his 2016 single “Uber Everywhere.” He followed that with some more original material like “I Want,” and paid homage to A$AP Yams with “Bachelor” by A$AP Mob.
Follow writer Joey Reams at Twitter.com/Joeyreams94.