Music

Big Sean: Coming to SA a dream come true

Rhodé Marshall

Big Sean, who had the crowd going at a rainy performance in Jo'burg, talks about beats, lyrics, Kanye West, and coming to South Africa.

Crowds withstood the pouring rain as the 25-year-old rapper belted out his hits. (Supplied)

Rapper Sean Michael Anderson, known as Big Sean, performed at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg for a one-night only performance on Saturday February 1 2014.

Crowds withstood the pouring rain as the 25-year-old rapper belted out hits such as Mercy, Dance, Marvin & Chardonnay and Guap.

Big Sean moved into the spotlight after signing to Kanye West's record label GOOD Music in 2007.

The rapper's sophomore album Hall of Fame dropped in August that year and sold 72 000 copies in its first week.

In 2013, Big Sean received two Grammy nominations for Mercy, in which he collaborated with West, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. He also won the 2012 BET Award for best new artist.

What was your first performance in South Africa like?
It was an amazing experience. It was beautiful to watch the crowd sing and dance with me despite the rain. I really appreciated that and wanted to give them exactly what they deserved – my best performance. I am from Detroit so to be able to perform in South Africa has been a dream come true and one of the best things that has happened to me as an artist. 

When you're writing a song, what comes first – beats or lyrics?
That's quite tricky but I would say that the beat comes to me first before I think of a story and tell it through my lyrics. But the beat sets to tone for what follows and I am a heavy beat artist.

A lot of your music, as most rap music, is as it's popularly called "ratchet" – what do you think of female artists like Rihanna and Beyoncé being far more open about their sexuality?
I love that female artists are expressing themselves and their sexiness through their music. And of course it is hard for people to stomach it and accept how honest they are but I think that it is remarkably freeing for them to be able to have the guts to say the things they are saying. I am very close to Rihanna and Beyoncé and I am very proud of what they are doing and the music they are producing. They are brilliant at what they do.

Last year Kanye West released one of his bravest albums yet. What did you think of Yeezus the first time you heard it.
Kanye has and always will be ahead of his time. That is why I love him and this album. The first time I heard it, he was still working on the album and I was just blown away. I instantly loved it.

Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Definitely has to be Blood On The Leaves
.

On Friday, the music video for Ashley was released and it is quite dark. Was it easy for you to get into that character?
It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be but it was definitely challenging. And it made me seriously think about getting into acting. The video was directed by Ellis Bahl and the track features Miguel, who doesn't appear in the video. It is one of my most dramatic videos and I am very proud of it. I didn't want another video that features me and an artist in front of a white wall or in the hood. I wanted it to be a beautiful story and I think we got it right.


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