Big Sean

Hall of Fame

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    7
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Originally announced as having that "classic feel" with skits and other whatnot, Big Sean's sophomore effort arrives with only one skit, the awfully upfront bit of erotica dubbed "Freaky." It introduces the standout number "MILF," where the Detroit rapper goes Southern strip club with Juicy J and Nicki Minaj acting as the new Ying Yang Twins lineup, and while Hall of Fame offers up plenty of these vibrant, exciting moments, that "classic feel" is nowhere to be found. Choppy overall flow and the feeling those skits and joiners might have helped place it a notch below Sean's knockout debut, but the rapper's growth (his nostalgic reminiscing on the opening "Nothing Is Stopping You" is a masterful mix of effortless and poetic) and his continued embrace of artistic freedom (check "Ashley," where guest Miguel blasts off "I'm just so f**kin' lucky you're my girl" on a polished, otherwise radio-friendly ballad) certainly right the ship. Bouncing between cloud rap and Kanye soul, "Toyota Music" is an easy pick, and when the alt-rock/summer-hop track "You Don't Know" comes on like Drake fronting Florence + the Machine (background vocals courtesy of an uncredited Ellie Goulding), Sean rides the No I.D. production like a champ. Besides these pop moments, true hip-hop thrives on a soul-filling promise to do better with Nas and Kid Cudi called "First Chain," and with the gravelly voice of Jeezy and the 808 kicking the woofers inside-out, "It's Time" checks off the box next to "trunk rumbler," making the superstar hip-hop album inventory complete. Fifteen cuts means this one is fat with an "f" and a bit too cumbersome to convert on first listen, but the sophomore slump this is not, meaning anyone who devoured Sean's debut should re-up with this one.

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