Written by: Danish Z
I Decided. is Big Sean’s 4th major release, and 2nd straight to go #1 on the Billboard 200. Sean described the theme of the album as “having that wisdom of an old man while you’re young and going through life & figuring it out”.
The concept is executed well, with an emphasis on family and spirituality. Big Sean’s vocal style is generally a bit monotone and droning, and he does a great job of mixing up his tones, flows and rhyme patterns to avoid getting stale here. There’s skillful use of background vocals throughout to keep things interesting.
- Intro (I Decided.) — The words of a tired, regretful old man questioning his purpose on Earth set the tone.
- Light — Sean raps over some church-organ type keys about his inner light. Jeremih’s vocals add to the gospel vibe. Consistent with the intro’s tone.
- Bounce Back — Here come the drums. Sean raps about generally winning despite the occasional L over a bouncy beat. He kills this track.
- No Favors — Eminem features here with a characteristically angry verse. Ann Coulter catches the worst of it. Sean’s flow is water here. This is a solid track with surprisingly high replay value. There’s a short skit at the end where Sean is pursuing a girl against an older voice’s advice. Leads into the next song.
- Jump Out The Window — Sean tries to talk a girl into leaving her abusive boyfriend and be with him instead. Smooth jam. Background vocals on the hook add some melody.
- Moves — A short bouncy track where Sean brags about his sexual prowess. Not a standout track, but nice enough to keep the album moving along.
- Same Time, Pt. 1 — Jhene Aiko, Big Sean’s new girlfriend and duo-mate in TWENTY88 joins him for a R&B interlude. This is nice.
- Owe Me — A girl from Sean’s past returns and he gets some feelings off his chest. Solid track. A skit at the end has Sean getting badgered by the paparazzi. Leads into the next song.
- Halfway Off The Balcony — Sean raps about coping with stress, but talks his way out of his depression by the end. Great background vocals keep this track moving along, and Sean’s vocals are distorted to a low pitch for some of the second verse. The piano is a great representation of the Chinese water-torture quality of stress without actually getting annoying to the ears. A short skit at the end has Big Sean declining to answer his moms’s phone call.
- Voices In My Head / Stick To The Plan — 2 short, related songs about what’s going on inside Sean’s head. The first deals with feelings of disappointment, the second is motivational. Did I mention he’s nailing the album concept? The background ad-libs, production and even his sped-up manic flow at the end perfectly complement these songs.
- Sunday Morning Jetpack — The uplifting power of prayer. Sean recollects good memories, good vibes. Much of his verse is addressed to his deceased grandmother. The Dream turns in a great feature, fitting the song perfectly. A short skit at the end has Sean finally answering his mom’s phone call, leading to the next song.
- Inspire Me — Big Sean’s song dedicated to his mother. Every rapper needs one! Sean goes from crediting her for introducing him to music like The Temptations and Isley Brothers, to talking about spoiling her with his riches, to a genuine outpouring of affection.
- Sacrifices — Offset & Quavo from Migos are featured here. Big Sean meshes with them pretty well, as this is very much their style. Good song.
- Bigger Than Me — Sean recognizes his place within the larger community, and how lucky he is to have made it to where he is. Starrah sings a small part and the Flint Chozen Choir lend a gospel vibe here. Maybe the best song of the bunch. A conversation between Big Sean and his mom closes the album, underlining the album’s concept one last time.
Big Sean pulled off an ambitious concept, and there isn’t really a weak song here. It can be played straight through, and might be his best album yet.
4.5 out of 5 stars.