Dark Sky Paradise is Big Sean’s best, most complete effort to date and should almost definitely have more staying power than his last album, Hall of Fame, which sold just over 100K copies, good enough for 47th on the Billboard Year End 2013 R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Seriously, I couldn’t even remember the name of his last album when asked last week. Finally Famous was a solid debut, but Dark Sky Paradise is the most focused and unapologetically moody of his work.

Breakups and divorces are usually good for an artist’s creativity and it’s hard to miss the numerous references to his old chick, Naya Rivera, and the more aggressive tone that comes along with them. Good thing his new chick, Ariana Grande, is into matters of the Dark Arts, if you will, and is featured on a decent bonus track, “Research”.

Big Sean has always been able to rap with unique speed and on songs like “Dance (Ass)” the beat would change accordingly. On Dark Sky Paradise he often disregards the beat in favor of his flow and more often than not his bars hit the right spot. However, occasionally it gets too jumbled, takes me out of the moment, and I wish he would take a breath. “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” and “Paradise (Extended)” are a couple of tracks where it works for the most part, but sometimes it’s just not natural. Though, I do like all of the visuals related to this album.

Dark Sky Paradise is feature heavy like Big Sean’s previous albums but I think he’s got the right ones here. And it’s good that he has them for variety’s sake, I definitely don’t want to see Sean pull a J Cole.

The album is well organized with the hit “I Don’t Fuck With You” positioned right behind “Blessings”, the third single off the album featuring Drake, and “All Your Fault” featuring Kanye West.
“All Your Fault” is my early favorite and has Sean and Kanye rapping call and response in a way I’ve only heard Kanye do with Jay (still waiting on Watch The Throne 2).

But maybe more importantly he’s got the right producers too. Every beat is a banger thanks to a who’s who of producers featuring OVO Sound members Boi-1da and PARTYNEXTDOOR (excited about that possible Kanye-Drake album), Key Wane, DJ Mustard, Mike WiLL Made-It, and Yeezus himself.

Speaking of, “I Know” featuring Jhené Aiko is what a DJ Mustard remix of “I’m In It” would sound like, and Dark Sky Paradise as a whole features a pervasive dark grinding post-Yeezus vibe right in line with its title, which is much easier to live up to as far as album titles go. It finishes with an “Outro” that samples the hilarious breakup song
“Didn’t I” by Darondo for one last shot and a fitting end.


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