When Big Sean declared that Hall Of Fame was a “classic” a few weeks ago, his already highly-anticipated summer release became even more so. The end result is a solid, if unspectacular, album.
Sean’s second LP was awarded priceless promotion in recent weeks with the controversy sparked by Kendrick Lamar’s verse on his own ‘Control (HOF)’ tune. That song is absent here due to sample clearing issues and in some ways that is a good thing, as it allows Sean to take centre stage.
This is an upbeat album and it is clear that the Detroit MC was in an inspired mood when penning the majority of these tracks. “I woke up this morning, rolled a joint, then got to it/Can do anything in the world except not do it” he rhymes on ‘Fire’, one of the album’s standout tracks. Hall Of Fame is essentially a body of work that displays just how far Sean has come since 2011’s Finally Famous, but that is not it’s only theme.
No I.D. produced ‘First Chain’ is arguably the album’s strongest track and touches upon a number of more serious issues. “Police only work 12-hour shifts/’Cause in Detroit, that’s cheaper than the bailout, bitch”, he raps referring to Detroit’s ever worsening financial state. This powerful message is intertwined with references to the connection between rappers and jewellery as Sean pays homage to Biggie and Nas’s bling exploits. The latter appears on the track alongside Kid Cudi and it all makes for very good listening.
Sean’s flow is strong throughout and after several years of searching, it seems he has finally found his sound. The problem is that there is far too much filler on this album. At its best (‘Fire’, ‘First Chain’, ‘All Figured Out’), Hall Of Fame is very good. Sean sounds focused and more driven than ever, but this is not present throughout the album. At times, the production makes it feel more like a pop album and the features do not always add to the album’s quality, making certain songs sound forced. ‘It’s Time’, which features Jeezy and Payroll, is a prime example of this.
In summary, Hall Of Fame is a step in the right direction for Big Sean, and the man that has drawn praise from legends such as Eminem and Nas has certainly improved his technique on the mic. Yet, there is an air of predictability that hangs over too much of the album for it to ever be considered anything more than good. It seems we’ll have to wait a little longer for the “classic” Sean Anderson promised us.