written by Carla Bynum
Big Sean is known for his clever wordplay so it’s no surprise that we hear a lot of that on this album. The album starts with “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers),” the first of many songs that highlight his rise to fame. It took him 10 years to earn the success that he has. He started from the basement but now he’s on the skyscraper.
The album’s third official single was the self-explanatory song “Blessings” featuring Drake. They both express how blessed they are to have the success that they do and reflect on their many blessings on the fan favorite track. Big Sean’s mentor Kanye West is featured on the extended radio version, but not the album.
The album’s lead single is the provocative bad break up anthem “I Don’t Fuck With You” featuring Bay Area rapper E-40. Since the song’s release, Big Sean has said that the concept for the song was not originally about his ex-fiancée actress Naya Rivera as most speculated. Although it wasn’t directed to her originally, the song’s release had perfect timing sing Rivera just married her best friend, just a few short months after her break up with Big Sean.
Singers Chris Brown and Ty Dolla Sign join Sean on the Key Wane produced track “Play No Games.” Big Sean doesn’t want to play any games in his relationship because he feels too grown now. In another twist, he also talks about how he wants to be taken seriously, perhaps in his music career. He considers himself one of the most underrated artists out today and I’m sure there are a lot of people who would agree. The song also features a sample of Guy’s 1988 song “Piece of My Love.”
The Mike WiLL Made It produced track “Paradise” previously appeared on Mike WiLL’s mixtape Ransom, but Big Sean decided to feature the extended track on his album. Big Sean reflects on how he didn’t have much growing up but always aspired for success. Now that he is where he wants to be financially, he can do whatever he wants.
Free-spirited singer Jhené Aiko joins Sean on the track “Win Some, Lose Some,” a song about how much his life has changed since he became famous and mistakes he’s made along the way. He has always heard the saying “you win some and you lose some” but he doesn’t believe in it. That’s a loser’s mentality to him.
Big Sean has been waiting for his moment to shine for a long time and now that it’s here, he’s ready to turn up with his homies and enjoy the fame on the track “Stay Down.”
Sean notices that his girl isn’t the same in their relationship anymore. Her actions and movements are different and he thinks she needs to get away and take a vacation on the song “I Know.” In return, singer Jhené offers to be Sean’s “vacation,” fun and stress-free.
Rapper Lil Wayne joins Big Sean on the track “Deep,” where he admits to losing sleep from wondering what would happen if everything he has worked so hard for was suddenly taken away. Big Sean shows a vulnerable side as he addresses his own personal doubts in himself and his talent.
“One Man Can Change the World” is an inspiring song featuring Kanye West and John Legend. Big Sean reflects on the positive influences and advice he was given over the years, especially from his late grandmother, whom he lost recently. His grandmother once advised him to leave a legacy and that’s exactly what he plans to do.
Big Sean samples the song “Didn’t I” by Darondo for the “Outro” about how he feels like he’s the best and it’s his job to prove it.
“Deserve It” is the first bonus track and features PARTYNEXTDOOR. Sean starts out talking about how he knows a girl that he had a crush on in high school and later graduated with a business degree from TSU. She couldn’t find a job after graduation so Big Sean suggested that she go to the Valley to become a “star” but she declined. Everything ain’t for everybody, she says. In the second verse, he reminisces on how he first got his record deal. It almost didn’t happen because he planned to go to TSU with the girl from the first verse. Now he sees how his decision was the right one for him because as the girl from the first verse said, everything ain’t for everybody.
Big Sean is joined by his girlfriend, powerhouse singer Ariana Grande on the song “Research,” a song about jealousy in relationships. Both find themselves snooping around, doing research to find out if the other is sneaking around. This seems like a bizarre song for the real life lovers. This is also the couple’s third collaboration.
The name for Big Sean’s final track “Platinum & Wood” comes from the UGK classic “Diamonds & Wood.” The Key Wane produced song also samples The Street Lordz “Come Roll With A Nigga.” He raps about his childhood and how he always knew he would never be broke.
Big Sean seemingly hasn’t caused much of a buzz since the release of his album Hall of Fame in 2013, but Dark Sky Paradise is easily his best album to date. He has clearly stepped his game up and it shows through his lyrics, vulnerability and determination to make it to the top.
Recommended tracks: “Platinum & Wood,” “Deep,” “One Man Can Change the World,” “I Know”