What Happens After You’re Finally Famous?
For many artists, the realization of their success is symbolized by the widespread fame that one achieves. Whether the artist is performing in front of a packed house of hysteric fans or is simply being recognized by a passerby, the acknowledgement that one is famous becomes irrefutable. However, while the right to boast about packing stadiums and being mobbed by fans is certainly admirable, repeatedly articulating one’s status in the upper echelons of society quickly becomes boring and drab. How many different ways can you say that you have lots of money and are adored by thousands of people? As artists strive to rise from their humble beginnings, what relatable material is left when, instead of fighting to achieve their dreams, their dreams have already come to fruition?
On June 28th, G.O.O.D Music artist Big Sean will release his debut album Finally Famous: The Album. Signed by Kanye in 2007, Big Sean has steadily been on his way towards stardom. Starting with his first official mixtape Finally Famous: The Mixtape (2007,) Big Sean hit the musical mainstream with his single “Get’cha Some.” The track, produced by WrighTrax, professes his love of designer labels and his ability to “make more than ends meet.” Though Big Sean reps his modest childhood in west Detroit, much of his material stems from one dream: to live the life of a rap star, with money, women, and clothes in abundance.
While Big Sean’s love for luxury is certainly entertaining, how long can it truly last? Though he clearly exhibits a talent for lyricism and performance, will his subject matter be enough to captivate an audience for years to come? In a 2010 Vulture article written by Erika Ramirez, the piece exposes a recent trend in which major label rappers such as Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and Theophilus London downplay their signings to labels like Warner Bros. and Atlantic Records in order to create a grassroots following.
“The idea is simple,” Ramirez writes, “Artists market themselves gradually, via social networks and blogs, avoiding saturation… And then, once their “indie” success wins notice in the mainstream, their label backers come out from the behind the curtains.”
Though Big Sean has never shied from giving G.O.O.D Music a shoutout, his journey to his debut album has been based on his free mixtapes and concert performances. Similarly, Big Sean’s youtube channel bseandon documents the rapper’s radio interviews and concerts. Still, Kanye’s protégé has struggled to diversify the range of his material.
In an interview with DJ Whoo Kid, the radio host asks the rapper if he will show a “different part of Detroit,” to which Big Sean responds positively. However, Sean quickly backtracks, saying, “Yeah I’ma show a different part of Detroit, people are gonna see the… I feel like it’s the same part it’s just told a different way.” Instead, the MC refers to his poetic abilities as his defining characteristics.
On his three mixtapes, Big Sean has rhymed about shaking off his haters, living the designer life, and enjoying the WWM (weed, women, and money) lifestyle. On the Finally Famous: The Mixtape track “Dreams,” the hook asks, “you really wanna talk about good? I’m good. Just a nigga out the hood with dreams of being rich.” On UKNOWBIGSEAN, the track “Million Dollars” discusses Big Sean’s hopes of “ending life on a high note, soprano.” While Big Sean initially presents his struggle to be famous, his goal of super stardom begins to be realized on Finally Famous Vol. 3: BIG. For example, on “Too Fake,” a catchy collaboration between Big Sean and Chiddy Bang, Big Sean emphasizes that despite the words of his haters, or even of his supporters, it’s the fact that he has “carties on my eyes, Louis on my case,” that makes him content.
For artists such as Waka Floka Flame and Souljaboy Tellem, rappers who have successfully made music that is based around catchy hooks and party anthems, the purpose of their music is quite clear: to keep the party bumping. Like Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” the artists’ tracks do not require much interpretation or analysis; sure, you might need to explain to me what it means to “superman that hoe,” but after that, I’m sure we’ll all catch on to the rest of the song. When you say “yesterday was Thursday,” we understand that yesterday was Thursday.
On the other end of the rap spectrum, there are the Jay-Z’s and the Eminem’s: artists who have carved out a long career through a gradual evolution of their public and private personas. Jay-Z developed from a young hustler to rap’s quintessential entrepreneur; Eminem came crashing into the rap game with his abrasive lyrics, and over the years his music has evolved to be more reflective while still packing a punch. While both artists can clearly hold their own over sixteen bars, it is their multi-faceted content that captivates audiences worldwide.
It may very well be way too early to start thinking of where Big Sean’s career will go once his debut album drops. While ringtone artists certainly have their foothold on the radio stations and on the dance floor, Big Sean does not seem to express himself like an artist that is focused on selling out for mediocre content and generic adoration.
As of June 28th, Big Sean will be able to take that big chip off of his shoulder. He will be no longer be finally famous. He’ll be undeniably famous. And because of that fame, all the tracks about wanting to have the big whips, mansions, vintage Cartier frames, will suddenly become irrelevant.
So, Big Sean, you’re finally famous… Now what?