‘What You Expect’
Big Sean & Hit-Boy (FF to Def Entertainment LLC. / Def Jam Recordings).
Short & Brief: Big Sean and Hit-Boy released an EP, What You Expect, closing out October. However, it feels like this might have been an attempt to close out the year.
Now for the real spill:
What You Expect spotlights a very confident and assertive Big Sean. This unflinching persona isn’t necessarily new to listeners, but it speaks to more a refined Sean. The aura of this EP is worth noting as the emcee continues to advocate for mental health and self-awareness.
With this advocacy comes about a strong sense of tone. If you’ve caught any of Sean Don’s tweets leading up to the 6 pack release, you know, the rapper has been making strategic plans to alter his career trajectory.
“Mountain top views/ where the inspiration spews
Sometimes when you lose/ that’s when the innovation cues
Everybody favorites/ just imitation you’s
Talkin’ in the mirror/more than occasional
‘Cause that’s the only one/ who gon relate to you,”.– Big Sean “The One”, What You Expect
The five-time Grammy-nominated artist announced on Oct. 29 that he parted ways with G.O.O.D. Music Label —founded by Kanye West in 2004 — after 14 years. During his time on G.O.O.D. Music, Sean released Dark Sky Paradise, I Decided, and Detroit 2, which landed No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Big Sean followed his announcement with a second tweet elaborating that with his departure comes a fresh label deal, as he’s ushering his own label FF To Def Entertainment — Finally Famous To Def. The new venture appears to be an imprint of Def Jam Recordings.
From the likes of this EP, it seems Sean’s recent pivot in business is a defined chess move.
What You Expect feverishly thrives on this ‘against all odds’ type of energy. Which is intriguing in itself because, in a world where Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole still heavily dominate claims of being Rap’s newest elite, Sean frequently falls as an honorable mention.
Perhaps, this project is Sean clearing this throat to revisit those conversations?
On the surface, it’s very evident that Sean is not ‘ok’ with the recurring attempts to remove him from the conversation of Rap’s greats. In fact, he takes to songs such as “Chaos,” “Into It,” “Offense” (feat. Babyface Ray & 42 Dugg), and “What A Life” to deliver some messages to the naysayers.
These songs are easily the pulse of the project, as Sean gets gritty with the flow and bars.
“Make you a million and make you a hunnid more (Brrr)
they praying’ I stop/ ‘cause that’s what they need the most (I know).”– Big Sean “Chaos”, What You Expect
However, songs like “The One” and “Loyal To A Fault” (feat. Bryson Tiller & Lil Durk) are where the EP shines its brightest. In my opinion, Sean isn’t credited enough for his relatability.
His catalog is laced with deep cuts. All of which express :
A. his evolution as a man,
B. his wrangle with mental health,
C. his pursuit of nobility within the industry.
Yet, these brilliant moments are too easily forgotten by the collective of Hip-Hop consumers.
The One” is indisputably the stand-out track. It opens with a smooth sample suggesting a soft touch to the firey tracklist. But then, Sean comes guns blazing and an extendo clip of life gems.
The song isn’t void of backbone either. The Don precisely gives himself praise. Bar for bar, we hear a collected Sean snatching back his claim as rap’s social elite. And it’s something I love to see from the humbly confident emcee.
“The game softened up a lot/ it’s time to add some pressure
A lot of peers/ we ain’t spoke in years
And you can go pretend/ like I ain’t here
But that just shows me /how much y’all threatened
Y’all new music/ don’t ask me how I feel about it– Big Sean “The One”, What You Expect
All in all the EP lands a 9 out of 10.
It’s just what I want from a six-pack. Short yet impactful. The production is explosive, but that’s to be expected of Hit-Boy. He isn’t known to leave a single crumb on his plate. The project is cohesive both lyrically and sonically. There are no disruptions. It’s genuinely a no-skip type of project (which is more than an anomaly these days).
The timing of this release is well played. It’ll stay ‘current’ in the minds of rap enthusiasts as they prepare their annual album wrap-up and crown yet another ‘album of the year.’
It’s refreshing to hear Sean sharpen his knives, and if this EP is indicative of future projects, I’m anticipating what’s still to come of Detroit’s Finest.