Big Sean made a statement this past weekend with the release of What You Expect alongside producer/rapper Hit-Boy: my new beginnings. So as he asks us, What You Expect? – we sit back pondering about what he wants to say – it isn’t like the reflexive nature behind Detroit 2, and more braggadocio and bold Big Sean. And what fans expect is another project that delivers on Big Sean’s smooth colloquialisms and metaphors – it is what you get on his new EP, despite containing tracks that feel like they are loosies from the vault.
Consistency is the key, specifically in hip-hop, considering how easy it is for artists to replicate each other in more ways than non, and Big Sean, along with Hit-Boy, shows us that on What You Expect. Hit-Boy comes with surreal and elevated percussion patterns that make you feel like you never heard a drum or drum machine for the first time, while Big Sean has smooth DON charm in his flow and rhythm. Big Sean keeps a consistent cadence to his performances, keying in on making himself stand tall and proud with chaotic swag. It shows as Hit Boy’s percussion begins to erupt in the opening seconds of “Chaos.”
“Chaos” speaks to its namesake, as Big Sean’s energy begins to grow and amassing his anger in contrast to his weight/status as a rapper/celebrity. The production builds a path for him to keep a consistent tangent with his flows, reminding us Big Sean is a solid technical rapper. And this waned off doubts that Big Sean would return to his old ways, where building a pop hit weighed more than building layers with his verses. These doubts begin to dissipate as Big Sean continues with a myriad of wicked bars; unfortunately, they become underwhelming with a fast pace and leave you with little memory of tracks like “Into You.”
As I sat back, as a fan, there was without a considerable doubt that I’d expect the EP to have more than 50% fluidity before it becomes nonsensical with pop-like features in hip-hop to sell records. It is rarely a detraction, but Big Sean can’t bring out everyone’s A-Game like Dr. Dre or Kanye West. It speaks true to the two songs that feature Bryson Tiller & Lil Durk and Babyface Ray & 42 Dugg, respectively.
“Loyal To A Fault” and “Offense” tread familiar waters without adding anything interesting to the mix and becoming redundant. “Offense” has a little more flare than the former, but all three artists make a solid production feel wasted. “Offense” contains a few percussion switches, flipping tempos between the low-pitches with Big Sean and higher pitches with the subsequent artists that bring a hard-melodic drill sound notable in hip-hop today. It gives Big Sean a different platform as if he was struggling to keep relevance; unfortunately, he doesn’t need it, and these songs are forgettable.
“Loyal To A Fault” falters from rare stale production by Hit-Boy, who relishes on the standard percussion sets – there is no benefit from Sean, Tiller, and Durk, coming off boring. Oddly, it isn’t usually the case for these artists, and after a while, these tracks about relationships become trite in the long run. Fortunately, Big Sean closes on a high note with “What A Life,” a reflexive track that boasts Big Sean’s confidence and talent as he flexes his accomplishments. Beyond the immediate inflections, Big Sean steals the show with his flows and rhyme schemes.
What You Expect is exactly that, nothing more and nothing less. If you’re a Big Sean fan, this will hit your parameters well – for others, you may find yourself waning off a bit come the middle, but he closes strong, and that is what you need when you’re making an impactful statement on your career as Sean did with the EP.