It’s a blessing to have artists that can manage to better themselves with time. Something that we received from the legends back in an age when it was arguably easier to improve, was a certain evidence of progress, often showing itself within a body of work presented by the artist rather than the word and chatter that has surrounded it.
Granted, babble and the intangible aura that circles a project can also infect the consumers and supporters but ultimately it’s the result; the creation itself that solidifies an opinion in the masses, usually shaping a general consensus amongst the listeners. The level of hype that builds for a project can often engulf the topic itself but unfortunately that’s not the issue here. Yes I said unfortunately, as I wish this project was just “good” and arguably didn’t meet the standards that the masses might’ve set for it. The bottom line is Big Sean just fails to deliver here.
The unfittingly titled Hall of Fame will stand in history as Big Sean’s scattered and unfocused sophomore effort, the few doses of quality lost as it lurks around mediocre filler. The concept is lost in translation, watered down by hollow ideas and second-rate attempts. “10 2 10” is a confused attempt at motivational trap music, better left for those who will appreciate the need to yell within the appropriate environment. It’s not horrible, but not necessary… like most of this album.
Releasing a single for a project can serve various purposes. One of which can be and often is a sample for the quality of music to come. The first, “Guap” seemed like a risky attempt that just barely paid off, proving to have legs. Common brought a delivery that was awkwardly out of character for “Switch Up”, failing to really pack a punch. Jhene Aiko’s enchanting sound and a decent Lil Wayne verse at best couldn’t bring Sean’s “Beware” to stand far from the rest of the mediocrity and “Fire” feels like a monotonous stab at trying to create the magic behind Sean’s “So Much More” from his debut.
Sean’s sophomore album is also heavy with features, at just about half of the project receiving aid from one or two artists in order to compensate for the lack of quality coming from the star himself. “First Chain” has more of a homegrown hip-hop feel to it, coming to life when Nas and Kid Cudi meet the instrumental. “MILF” is Sean’s humorous take on being involved with a woman who has a child, complete with sexual references from Nicki Minaj and assistance from the utterly trippy Juicy J. The track doesn’t stand against any of the best work Sean’s ever done but it’s surely fun to listen to. That would suffice if the project didn’t have a point to prove and fails to get off the ground for the majority of it.
Once again, Hall of Fame is not terrible by any means. It’s fun at times, and some tracks really show signs of life. “You Don’t Know” stands as one of the very few that have the potential to soar along with “World Ablaze” supported by the quietly undefeated James Fauntleroy however, the latter is really saved by the effort of the assist.
Big Sean is stuck in a difficult situation. He’s passionate, and devoted to his work but it seems like he’s lost himself in trying to create something worthwhile. His goals and drive to be finally famous may have engulfed him; consuming him and through that he’s inadvertently lost focus. The curse of the sophomore slump is very real and naming your album Hall of Fame doesn’t entitle you to have a place in it. Distracted, middling and mostly bland, Sean Anderson is going to have to bring himself back to his roots to create something that’ll make up for this. In a generation so demanding of their artists and newcomers to the genre who surpass expectations, this future Hall of Famer won’t have a place just being average.