INTERVIEW: BIG SEAN
Nardene Scott talks to Big Sean after last year's monumental Kanye West featured London show...
We caught up with the Finally Famous rapper during his brief stop in the UK; although a little worse for wear after a night in Funky Buddah, the humble MC told Nardene Scott all about touring, his Supa Dupa flow, working with Bieber, his idol Kanye and his fashion game, now he’s been scooped up by adidas Originals.
How did the show go last night, we hear label boss Kanye turned up? What did you think of the show overall were you surprised by the London audience being on top of your music?
I kinda knew but I wasn’t sure Kanye was going to turn up but yeah man the crowd knew all the words to everything, every little thing! Mixtape songs, album songs, it’s tight to just get that love, like as soon as I got out of customs, they were taking pictures, I didn’t even see them. I never knew it was like that over here, so that’s pretty fresh man, that was an honour. I’m a long way from Detroit so it’s just so tight to get the same love here.
You’ve been touring with Wiz too what has that been like?
It’s been super crazy! We’ve been doing crowds of like 20,000 so they’ve been like big festival crowds just for me and him. My fan base has just grown and grown and grown over there so some shows are just insane.
How would you describe a Big Sean performance?
Yeah I go crazy, like at the show last night [Cargo] it was tight in there I couldn’t go crazy like I usually do. It was my first show so we had to start small but the show sold out a few weeks in advance so I should of did something bigger. I usually go crazy like hop in the crowds…
…Oh, like crowd surfing?
Nah I like actually hop in the crowd, get hype with the crowd. I do do crowd surfing, usually the stage is way bigger so I normally do certain dances that I couldn’t do yesterday.
So the album dropped a couple a months ago did you expect it to go Top 5? That’s quite a big look for a new artist although we know you released quite a few mixtapes beforehand?
No, I mean not necessarily expected but it was exciting man because you know people don’t buy albums like that anymore and it was tight to make that transition from just a mixtape artist to like actually having an album out. It doing well, being on radio, it’s definitely something I really worked my ass off for. I really worked hard, really hard and it makes me appreciate it way more too I’m just happy to like be there. I’ll sit and be like the tiredest I’ve ever been but I’ll never complain about anything I’ve got to do. [youtube EeTPi2a2Ld4]
You’ve got an impressive line up of features on the album too, how did they all come about?
Everybody on the album I just knew like personally or I’d already done stuff with, like Rick Ross reached out to me before he was a fan and of course I’m a fan of his. Me and Wiz, we’ve known each other for years so before he started blowing up me and him been friends so it’s tight to see him blow up too. John Legend that’s just G.O.O.D Music fam and Kanye, Pharell…Chris Brown that’s just one of my homies. I randomly met him at one of my shows. He was just there watching one of my shows and I was like ‘Man what the hell are you doing here?’ He was like ‘Wassup man I love your music’ and I was like damn!
There was a big spotlight on you coming from the G.O.O.D Music camp, did you feel a lot of pressure on you ahead of the album drop?
Nah you’ve just got to remember as far as the pressure and shit goes they put you in your spot where you’re supposed to be at for a reason. When you start getting nervous and feel pressure that’s when stuff starts to go wrong, you’ve just got to have fun with it and that’s what I’m doing, having fun, being myself and people see your heart and see like you were raised right, you’re a real person and that you cool, then everything goes right.
Who influenced you as you were growing up?
Growing up I used to listen to a lot of Eminem and like Royce The 59, Slum Village, J Dilla, of course Jay Z, you know DMX, Mase, Biggie, 2Pac. I started rapping because all the girls used to like 2Pac and Mase, I was like in the 5th grade, that’s why I started rapping. Biggie and Pac were so influential man they changed the game in so many different ways, Biggie’s flow was just like the blueprint for a lot of rappers and 2Pac in the same way like he had all the style, that’s the reason why I like Rolex’s so much because of them.
You also went to a creative arts school do you think that had a huge impact on what you do creatively? Would it have been different if you didn’t attend a school that was all about being creative?
Back on that other question before I answer, Kanye was like my idol man…College Dropout changed my life emotionally that was probably like the first album I emotionally felt. But then as far as that school I went to The Detroit Waldorf School, it was created by a German and it was a private school and they have them all over like, New York, Hawaii, California and I enjoyed it. They made us recite poems and write our own poems every morning, they gave us our information and we had to make our own textbooks, write it ourselves and draw pictures, and we took like Spanish and German for like eight years and played like four instruments. It was definitely a real creative type school and I didn’t realise how much it really nurtured my imagination, that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m as open minded as I am today and never really care what anybody says.
Yeah because you were quite a self-motivated artist anyway although you met Kanye a long time ago you sort of built up your own reputation with mixtapes, open mic nights and other tools.
Hell yeah man from mixtapes to just doing shows from like 20 people to 20,000 people and everything in between, I really put that work in, like really f*ckin hard and it’s made me humble like my grandma said‘Whatever you get you could lose twice as fast’ but I’m happy as hell to be here man.
Do you think a lot of new artists look too much to record labels and don’t focus on building their own name?
Yeah like I had to work twice as hard once I got signed.
What’s this Supa Dupa Flow we keep on hearing about?
I done a song on my second mixtape called U Know Big Sean I dropped in like 2009. I did this flow on there I call it the Supa Dupa Flow it’s basically like the one where a punchline flows and one word describes another word so for example ‘I just give them line after line after line after line after line barcode‘ or you know all the rappers have used it ‘bald, chemo’ ‘down, basement’. So I’m sure it can be traced back before that but I was the one who used it in a certain context and then Drake took that little aspect in his song Forever, then the whole rap game caught up to it. People were coming up to me like ‘People stole your style, are you mad at them?’ I was mad for like a second but then not really because it just showed me how far I could go as an artist. I could change the game without even putting an album out. It was tight that Drake gave me credit too Drake so that’s pretty cool?
What other phrases are there because we’re hearing about foolay and boolay now?
Oh foolay is like something crazy in a good way so like ‘Damn I got a Rolex on my pinky finger that’sfoolay’. Boolay is like the opposite of foolay, it’s like bad so like you’re boolay, you’re f*ckin up homie. I heard Justin Beiber say ‘Woah der’ in a song and that’s one of my catchphrases too, me and Justin are working on some music together too, we were just in the studio.
How is that sounding so far?
Cool, pretty good.
So are we gunna see you singing?
I can sing a little bit but he’s a big fan I didn’t realise he knew a lot of songs so that’s pretty fresh.
What about the project that you’ve been working on with Currensy and Wiz, is that an ongoing thing?
Well, these are songs we just did, just having fun with it, you know, I think a lot of people just forget to have fun with it. Like you get put in that position with some of the new hot guys in the game and you might as well just have fun. We just put out five songs in five days and people waiting to see what happens but we’ll see, maybe an album, maybe a mixtape, maybe nothing.
You mentioned the pinky Rolex so can you talk us through the fashion game today because we know it must be on point considering adidas just signed you up for their Originals campaign.
Yeah man they been showing love shout out to adidas man, putting me on their commercials and stuff. The Rolex on the pinky this is a Rolex ring, the real Rolex rings are not all gold and they didn’t have diamonds in them and I just had my jeweller recreate an actual one, the authenticity is pretty much there just isn’t made by Rolex. So you know I saw 2Pac with one and definitely emulated it and also it matches the Rolex pretty perfect. Then you know I’ve got other accessories, vintage jewellery from Chanel, Balmain belt, Kanye gave me this belt for my birthday it was one on one so it’s really priceless for me, I mean like he made it himself! I got a gold jesus piece and a diamond one too and a load of Pow chains.
So what else have you got coming up obviously Finally Famous is out now but what else have you got set for the coming months?
Firstly, I appreciate the love over here look out for more mixtapes coming. I’ll be in the studio with Rihanna and Justin Bieber and also they’ll be a tour later in the year.
Finally Famous is out now and you can follow Big Sean on Twitter @BigSean