Photographs by Joshua Chia.
In the last few years, Big Sean has treaded a path that exists within the realm of commercial hip-hop. His name is often tossed up alongside Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Future and more, with good reason. But four albums deep, including the chart-topping 2015 release Dark Sky Paradise and this year’s I Decided, notoriety and massive fan following aside, it still oddly feels like Big Sean is one of the more underrated acts from his graduating class.
When he stopped in Toronto to perform at Rebel last Sunday, the only Canadian date on his I Decided tour, that fact became all too clear. Big Sean’s infinite energy made his hour and a half-plus show fly by because he was just so damn fun (and the random distribution of fake American bills above audience members didn’t hurt the cause, either). It’s curious that he hasn’t grown into even larger venues just yet.
Riding off of the joy of his birthday, a week prior, and receiving the key to his hometown Detroit, Big Sean insisted that he had enough motivation to deliver the best that he could. Representing nearly every facet of the Big Sean spectrum throughout the night, he packed in G.O.O.D. Music features “Champions”, “I Don’t Like”, and “Mercy”; the (appropriate) performances of Drake collaborations “All Me” and “Blessings”; and hit singles “Dance” and “IDFWU”. A three-piece support band in place and an appearance by opener MadeinTYO spruced up the show, but at its core, Big Sean’s always-impressive spitfire flow carved the undeniably entertaining event.
Amidst his fair share of club anthems and goodness off of I Decided (“Moves”, “Bounce Back”, “Sunday Morning Jetpack”), Big Sean was also infectiously positive. His messages, many central to his latest release, relayed ideas on self-empowerment, giving back and finding true happiness. “One of the greatest things I have ever seen happen to me is the pursuit of happiness come true,” he said, speaking on his ability to give back in Detroit while urging his audience to manifest their own wishes and dreams. For some, seeing Big Sean evolve, yet remain as reliably good as he is, probably became a part of the agenda.