I Decided. The album name has a period in the title; Big Sean is telling the world he decided (not what he decided), and then he’s ending the conversation. The Detroit-born rapper had a quiet 2016, having not released music since 2015’s Twenty88 EP, up until coming out of nowhere with his hit songs “Bounce Back,” and “Moves.” These two hits were a part of the smoothest album release I’ve ever experienced. They both got massive radio play, and in the ultra-fast recycling of rappers in the modern music industry, Big Sean’s bounce back into relevancy is astonishing. I Decided. explores Sean’s relationship with his mom, his struggles on the way to success, and his faith. I highly recommend this album.
I Decided. pops off with “Intro,” where we hear an old man talking to God. He talks about doing the “same job in the same place for the last 45 years.” Throughout the album, we hear snippets of the same old man talking to Sean. After Sean turns down a few phone calls from his mom during the outros of a couple songs, at the end of “Sunday Morning Jetpack,” the old man tells Sean to answer the phone. On the last song of the album, “Bigger Than Me,” we hear the phone call take place. Sean talks with his mom, and finally we learn who the old man is. Sean explains to us that sometimes, he imagines himself as an old man who wasted his life away, and with that mind-set, he’s able to go out in the world and succeed. During the last few seconds of the song, the old man returns. His voice layers over Sean’s and the album ends. These interludes and outros frame the album, and make it more than a collection of songs. I wouldn’t say I Decided. tells a complete story from beginning to the end, but it’s definitely very cohesive.
Besides being put together very well thematically, I Decided. is also very strong technically — Sean’s flow, wordplay, and voice all come together extremely well. An example of his wordplay is on the song “Bounce Back.” In the second verse, Sean spits, “If you f*ck with my glory, I’ma drop the L and get gory.” Glory. Spell it out. G – L – O – R -Y. If you remove the letter “L” from the word, or “drop the L,” what do you get? Gory! I’ll let your brain sit in that fine marinade of awesome juice for a minute. This type of wordplay can be found throughout the whole album, and it makes the whole thing fun. In addition to the wordplay, Sean’s flow stands out, and he shows it off throughout the album, rapping laid back yet somehow really fast at the same time. The most concrete example of this is on the song “Voices In My Head/Stick To the Plan.” In the song, Sean raps about the thoughts, fears, and the expectations he has for himself. At exactly three minutes and thirty seconds in, he lets loose. In a mumbly, stream-of-consciousness style, he exposes his inner dialogue, rapping twice as fast as he had been previously. Right as you get used to this, he doubles the speed again. What makes this verse stand out is that he doesn’t rap super fast to sound epic. It’s done to sound like the inner dialogue of an over thinker. Sean sounds like he’s mumbling frantically to himself to do better, and it fits the sound of the song perfectly.
You should definitely listen to this album. “But I’m broke!” you say. Well, it’s on the internet. Figure it out, bucko. Make the decision. Decide to listen to I Decided., and later decide that your decision to listen was a good one.