I hate late ass sequels.
When a company decides to release a sequel to a movie almost a decade after the original, it’s usually a sign that they’re looking for an easy hit. For example, The Godfather III feels so unnecessary after the amazing first two films, that the only reason you can justify its existence is, well, MONEY.
Oftentimes these late sequels just feel like cheap cash grabs on an established property. We’ve seen these types of dog and pony shows before in music too. Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2 album was a chore to listen to and only really contributed one real mark on the culture: “Rap God” memes.
In my eyes, before you create a sequel to any long-standing piece of art, you have to ask yourself:
1. Does this tell a new story?
2. Does this expand upon the lore and add enough new, while paying homage to the old?
If the answer is no to either of those questions, don’t call your new shit a sequel. Just call it something else.
Keep this in mind as we move forward….
THE YEAR IS 0’12
One dusty September evening, I find myself in my momma’s basement, surfing Datpiff, thirsting for new music to grace my ears. It’s at this time I see the name of my own city: DETROIT, sprawled across the front page of the legendary mixtape website. So, naturally, I gave it a listen, and in that moment, a Big Sean Fan was birthed.
Detroit is undoubtedly a classic mixtape, from an era where classic mixtapes were being dropped from the skies every two months it seems. Tracks like 24k of Gold, How It Feel, RWT and Mula set the city ablaze. Detroit spread through the internet quicker than syphilis in a Tuskegee Airmen orgy. To this day it has a 96% audience rating on HotNewHipHop.
While the original Detroit is a product of its time, it’s also a project that has withstood the sands of time. In fact, it’s aged better than your favorite milf.
However, in the ages since then, the public has not always been so kind to Big Sean, and his status as top 5 of his era has slowly faded. And as it seems, time and perception has eroded at Sean’s own self image, something he’s admitted to in many press runs over the years. Now, after a nearly three year hiatus, Big Sean returns to the world of music bearing his New Testament, Detroit 2.
Remember what I said about sequels earlier?
Yeah, that shit’s applicable now.
Call me a skeptic, but capitalizing on your classic art eight years later feels a little cheap. But, in true Big Sean fashion, his latest album does the unexpected, and succeeds (mostly) at being a worthy sequel.
Just like the classic novel The Alchemist, Detroit is Big Sean’s Andalusia, and he had to leave it in search of treasure and adventure in order for him to return home in Detroit 2, a more grown, mature, wiser and richer man.
Philosophy aside, the music slaps. “Harder Than My Demons” makes me wanna do a four hour praise dance on the devil’s face at Northland Roller Rink off 8 Mile and Telegraph.
On the other hand “Don Life” is the type of city wide anthem we haven’t heard since 2012. The Human Nature sample with that bassline and that chant of a hook could put the battery pack in the Pistons back and win us another championship. It even includes a fully charged up Lil Wayne feature for good measure. And Lithuania serves as the prime reason we need a Travis Scott x Big Sean album.
In between the potential hits, Sean adopts a more conversational tone, expanding his lore and paying homage to his roots by explaining the personal growth he experienced during his self imposed hiatus. Lines about burnout and finding your way again are aplenty on tracks like “Deep Reverence” and the aforementioned “Harder Than My Demons”. There are even discussions on miscarriage.
The album is not without it’s missteps though. Unlike the original mixtape’s perfect sequencing, the way the tracklist bounces around here is a bit odd at times. The transition from “Everything That’s Missing” into “ZTFO” is a weird one. Both songs stand on their own merit but next to each other they feel juxtaposed in the worst way. It’s kind of like putting Ike Turner next to Jeffrey Epstein. It’s just not the move.
And also, can someone tell me wtf “Wolves” was supposed to be? It’s cool, but it’s like Sean attempted to shoot a sniper rifle at a landmine and instead of blowing up, it backfired. Something tells me that track would’ve been serviced better with a Juice WRLD or Lil Uzi doing the hook than pasty Post Malone.
All in all, Big Sean’s latest is a feat rarely seen. It manages to be a good sequel to a classic work of art. And maybe, just maybe, if time is as kind as it was to the original, Detroit 2 could eventually become a classic too.
- Payroll had the best verse on “Friday Night Cypher”. Fight me.
- I wish “Single Again” was on the album. It was the best signifier of Sean’s growth and it was an absolute bop.
Swear to God if we get a Detroit 3 eight years from now….