Big Sean chats with me about overcoming the times when he didn’t have enough faith in himself, remembering the times he’s missed out on more than the times he’s lived, why he deleted twitter from his phone, learning to not be distracted by the negative, and wanting to tell stories that people can relate to, and to be known for more than just a song about ass.
I want to start by talking about the first song on your album. It’s very endearing, you kind of get people up to speed with how you were discovered, you give a nice little nod to your fans, but you end it with, ‘All the faith that you have, just ain’t all the faith that you need.’ What did you want to tell people, what kind of mood did you want to set for people, by choosing this as the first song?
I just know that a lot of people go through that, a lot of people go through having that dream and it not working out right away and being frustrated. It tests your faith out, it happened to me, I’m sure it happens to everybody who wants to do more and be more. Everything sometimes doesn’t just unfold how you want it to, and I just wanted to give those people a soundtrack to show them that it does work out, but you just gotta believe. Me, myself, I didn’t have enough faith either, but through a lot of good advice from the right people around me and always believing, and visualising, and believing I can manifest it, it all came, it all worked out.
There’s a few lines that stuck out to me. In ‘All Figured Out’, you say ‘I probably remember the times I missed out on more, than the times I lived.’ And in ’10 2 10′, ‘nightmares of losing everything, boost my adrenaline.’
Yeah, those are some real deal lines.
Are you touching on the gift and the curse of fame, you work so hard to get to a certain point, and then you can’t enjoy it?
Nah, I enjoy life, I’m not that famous though, I’m famous a little bit, there’s people who are way more famous than me like, Kanye, Jay-Z, you know those old guys. But, nah I was just saying ‘nightmares of losing everything boost my adrenaline’, that’s the workers anthem. That’s for people like me and you who have to get up and grind every day and make it happen. That’s just like the anthem, that’s my alarm clock, I wake up and that’s how I feel.
As far as ‘All Figured Out’ that’s just real lines, another real situation. I feel like ‘All Figured Out’ is a very slept on song, because it has such deep meaning to it. Not just about how you’ll never have it all figured out. Just some of those lines, ‘I’ll probably remember the times that I missed out on more than the times I lived, I probably remember the girls that I ain’t had more than the ones I did,’ those are real moments, and real situations. That’s what I wanted to get across on this album, real moments, real situations, things different from what people knew me from. People might have known me from just ‘ass, ass, ass’, and I love ass, and I love partying but I definitely wanted to show a different side, while I was still at the beginning of my career.
It’s definitely a darker, more personal affair. Are you able to create during those dark times, or do you have to be completely out of that mindframe first, before you can touch on those feelings or subjects?
Nah, I go exactly how I feel and when I get with the right producers and the right people around me, those songs just come out, how they come out. A lot of those songs just reflected the time of what I was going through in my life. When I wrote ‘Ashley’, that’s what it was at that time. When I wrote ‘Fire’, that’s how I was feeling, ‘Fire’ tells so many stories, just how my Grandma said, ‘Stop having people at your shows, that wasn’t at rehearsals’, she actually told me that. I was just giving people me, and that’s all an artist can do, is give them you, and paint a picture and invite you into their world, and you can relate to it in your own way.
I wanna go back to what you were saying about remembering the times you miss out on, more than the times you live… Why is that?
I don’t know, but how real is that though? I’ve sat and talked with my Mom or just people, and it’ll be funny how they’ll be like, ‘yeah, we went there but I don’t really remember it too much, but I almost…’ and they remember the almost. ‘I almost did this one time, when I was 15′. It’s just something that’s common in a lot of people. Same with me. I can’t remember some shows I did, or some of the things I’ve been through, but I can remember the time that I almost met Eminem when I was 16, or I can remember that time when I almost went to Jay-Z’s concert when I was like, 10. I can remember that.
Losing hurts more than it feels good to win [is what I meant to say]…
Isn’t that crazy? I think that’s super fucked up, because people, I don’t know why people pay more attention to the negative than the positive. If you get 10 people that say they love you, and 1 person says they hate you, you’ll be like, damn man, they some haters.
Yet that’s such a human thing to do, such a common thing to do.
Yeah, but those people are just deflectors, what I realise is that, you’ve just gotta realise that you’re a perfect being and that you don’t need anybody else’s approval except yours, that’s what I’ve been realising. I realised that last week.
Really? What was that moment that clicked for you?
I deleted twitter off my phone and shit, because I felt like I was wasting too much of my life on that shit, looking at it so much. I was reading this book too, and in the book they were talking about how you pay attention to the negative more than the positive and you’re spending all that attention on trying to right those people who think you’re wrong, or trying to impress or change those people’s minds, when really, you’re taking all that attention away from you trying to create your world and manifesting what you want. I was like, holy shit, that’s so true.
What’s the book called?
It’s called, ‘What You Think Of Me is None Of My Business’, it’s an awesome book. It’s the best book I’ve read, and I’ve read some good books. It just talks about, I’m in to edifying books, it’s like creating what you want and all that.
‘Worlds Ablaze’, is that still your favourite song on the album? I mean it’s not hard to tell why, but do you wanna explain a little bit about why that is your favourite song?
More than what it says, I just love the melody and the chords, and it’s just something real, people who are going through real shitty times can hold on to, it gives them faith and that’s what I made it for. I feel sorry for the people who haven’t heard it, and had a chance to live through it, because it’s a good song. I really like it, not just from a ‘rappers, rapper’ perspective, because the lyrics there are OK, but it’s more what they’re saying, or how I said it. My rhyme scheme or my metaphors, that’s not even the important part. The important part is the stories that’s in there, and what it actually says. People get so hyped up in who can rap better, and who does this and that, as opposed to just executing a message and getting a point across, you know. I wanted to make this an album something that people who did listen to rap, and people who didn’t listen to rap, could understand too.
On the song ‘Ashley’ :
It was just an honest story. Miguel wrote the hook, so the lyrics on the hook are from his perspective, and from me, the verses are just the story of my old relationship with my previous girlfriend Ashley. She inspired the song, it’s not bashing her in anyway, it was just literally what I was going through at the time. I wrote that song awhile ago and I feel like people can relate to it in their own way. Everybody has a person like that.
There was a line that stuck out to me, when you’re like, ‘I hate to see you single in the club’, even though it’s super simple, it’s one of those things that even though you don’t wanna be with someone anymore, it’s sad to see that person have to go out and put themselves out there like that.
Yeah you know, you can relate to that? That was definitely a feeling that again I told that story because I knew that these are stories that people have, in just their own ways, you can find your story within my stories, in songs like ‘Beware’ and ‘Ashley’. They might not be exact, but you can relate to them on your own. I’m glad that that song got written, I wrote that song before I met Naya, so I’m glad I got that off.