After rapping for the multi-platinum superstar in a radio station hallway, Big Sean stayed in touch with Mr. West and eventually signed to Island Def Jam through G.O.O.D. Music in March of 2008. Now, he is gearing up to release his debut album which not only includes features from some of today’s most highly respected artists but also gives listeners an in-depth look into the life of a MC who is so committed to his craft, he puts everything he has into each and every rhyme.
21 year-old Big Sean was born Sean Anderson in Santa Monica, California. When he was two months old, Sean moved with his parents to Detroit so his family could be close to his ailing grandfather. When Sean reached kindergarten age, his mother enrolled him in a Waldorf school where children’s creativity is heavily nurtured and developed.
“I grew up in the hood in Detroit and went to a private school in a super nice neighborhood, so I got to see the best of both worlds,” says Sean. “It was a real artsy school. We learned three or four different instruments and spoke Spanish and German for eight years. I owe a lot to that school because that’s where I started making music and getting a love for poetry.”
When he was 12, Sean started rapping, a talent that came easily to him thanks to his artistic background. “I was really into the whole Bad Boy era,” he remembers. “That’s what really made me want to rap because girls liked Mase and Puff Daddy. But when I started hearing people like Jay-Z and 2Pac, that’s when I really started to gain a love for music.”
The following year, he enrolled in a Detroit public high school where he met Pat Piff, who Sean would later form the group S.O.S. with. When they were 16, Sean and Pat entered a MC contest at the Detroit hip-hop radio station, 102.7 called the Friday Night Cipher. S.O.S. won the battle and were rewarded the chance to rap live, on-air, for the entire city to hear. “It was a really big thing,” remembers Sean. “We were like high school celebrities.”
S.O.S. became so popular, they were asked back to the station every Friday night for close to a year. “One day between junior and senior year, Kanye was down at the station promoting Late Registration and my boy called me and like, if you go down to the station and rap for him, he’ll sign you,” says Sean. “I was like, you sound crazy. He was like, forget that, you need to go rap for him!”
Sean decided to take his friend’s advice and drove straight to the station with one of his demos in hand. He was able to gain easy access because he and Pat had been there the night before. “I had never met a celebrity so my heart was beating out of my chest,” remembers Sean. “I was like, ‘Yo Kanye, you’re one of my favorite rappers, can I rap for you real quick?’ He was like, ‘Alright, you have 16 bars, but you gotta rap while we’re walking out.’ I was freestyling and thinking the best lines I had. I ended up rapping for like 10 minutes straight.”
Kanye was thoroughly impressed by the courageous young MC and invited him to a private listening session later that night. Sean showed up and when the time was right, asked ‘Ye if he was looking to sign any new artists. Kanye insisted that they would be in touch and Sean left feeling as if he had made the connection of a lifetime.
A year later, Sean received a call form Don C, Kanye’s Road Manager who asked Sean to fly to New York to meet with John Monopoly, the President of G.O.O.D. Music. “Basically he was like, ‘We want to hear a little bit more music before we decide to make an investment in you. So we are going to give you some tracks and see what you can do.’”
Sean went home and recorded the tracks with his partner Pat Piff. While everyone at G.O.O.D. Music was impressed with the songs, their reaction was not what the guys expected. “Our manager hit us up one day like, ‘I got some great news!’” says Sean. “’G.O.O.D. Music wants to sign Sean, but they don’t want to sign the group.’ It was real bitter sweet because when I was coming up, everyone used to think Pat was doper than me as a rapper.”
Fortunately Sean and Pat were able to remain best friends and vowed that if one of them were ever to catch a solo break, they would find a way to include the other. Sean officially signed to G.O.O.D. Music at the end of 2007. Around the same time, he released his first solo mixtape, Finally Famous, Vol. 1 which included an intro from Sean’s new label boss. With over 60,000 downloads, Finally Famous was a huge success.
In March of 2008 Sean signed to Island Def Jam. He spent the remainder of the year traveling the world with Kanye on the Glow In The Dark tour where he was able to observe everything that goes into the life of an international icon. The following Spring, Sean released his second mixtape, You Know Big Sean, which was named the second best mixtape of 2009 by BET. Now he is getting ready to release his commercial debut, Finally Famous, an LP Sean says will resonate with anyone who has ever taken a leap of faith.
“I want my album to be something that people can include themselves in,” he says. “I want people to be able to relate to it in the sense that if you’re doing something and you’re being recognized for it, you are finally famous.”
Packed with songs that were built to inspire the masses, Finally Famous is an eye-opening look into the inner workings of a highly skilled artist. On Kanye West and Wrightrax produced track “Made,” Sean and guest star Drake rap about never feeling satisfied when it comes to success over a bounce heavy track. “Donald Trump” finds Sean collaborating with Pharrell who produced and raps on the song about making it big.
Sean also touches on a lot of relationship issues including “I Almost Wrote You A Love Song” which talks about a couple’s communication breakdown. “My biggest strength I feel like is being able to be myself on all of my songs,” says Sean. “I’ve met people at in-stores and concerts who come up to me crying like man, you changed my life!”
With one of the most multi-talented rappers behind him, it’s no coincidence that Sean was hand picked by Kanye to represent the future of G.O.O.D. Music. Lucky for Sean, all it took was a tremendous amount of persistence and courage along with the willingness to open himself up and pour his heart out on record.
“I remember in the eighth grade I told myself, man I’m going to be signed to Def Jam,” says Sean. “I always put it out into the universe and I think it was written for me. I was meant to inspire people, I was meant to make music. There’s been so many nights where instead of going out I’ve had to work and was depressed so I feel like I deserve this. This is what I was meant to do.”