You’ve been signed to GOOD Music but we haven’t heard too much from you. What did you think of fans’ reactions to your first two songs on HipHopGame?
Oh, man, it’s all good. Of course you get your good and bad, but it seems to be a lot of good. We plan on dropping “Getcha Some”. We’re shooting a video for that this month. I’m coming out on GOOD Music and Island Def Jam. It’s real good. I can’t appreciate it enough.
After listening to “Getcha Some” it sounds like you have an interest in fashion like Kanye.
Oh yeah, I definitely have an interest in fashion. Kanye inspires me. I’m definitely influenced by Japanese culture and art.
What do you think of how high fashion is having more of a presence in hip-hop today?
Well, I don’t think I’m as deep into it as Kanye. He’s a fashion guru. He gets stuff from overseas and from different people. I’m into Louis and a lot of that type of stuff. I think I’ll get into more of the designers that are more low-key to the U.S. that people don’t know about, but I’m pretty big on Ice Creams and Louis and Gucci, stuff that’s a little more accessible than the stuff he wears sometimes.
As a new artist, how can you balance bragging about the expensive clothes you have without alienating fans who may not have what you do?
That’s not all I wear. I say Polo and Louis, but everything that I get is pretty much accessible at the mall. I rock Levis and all that stuff. All the stuff I rock isn’t glitz and glamour. A lot of it isn’t too expensive. It’s pretty accessible. Sometimes the shirts are $30, $40. I definitely don’t mean to alienate anybody. It’s just my interests and what I like.
Let’s get into your history. How did your deal with GOOD Music come about?
Man, it’s just a long, crazy story. A lot of people think I’m related to Kanye or I had a connection. Man, I didn’t know anybody at all. I started out in a duo. Me and my best friend used to rap. We did a radio station every Friday in Detroit. It was 105.9 at the time. We used to have to battle to get on the air and we ended up being regulars on the show because we won every week. We were doing this six or seven months.
We became regular fixtures down at the radio station. One day Kanye was at the radio station telling people about his new album Late Registration that was coming out. At the time, I was in high school still and I was working at my job. I was at my job and we had just got paid. I was going to the bank to cash my check and Kanye was at the radio station. My boy called me and told me to go to the radio station and to rap for Kanye so he could sign me. I was like, ‘Nah,’ but he said, “What do you have to lose?” I went home and got a CD. My friend came with me and we ended up getting to the station before he left. I asked him if I could rap for him and he said he didn’t have time. Then he asked me for a quick 16 and that turned into five minutes after I started rapping and he just thought it was real dope.
We ended up staying in contact over a few months and after some deliberations and after submitting a whole bunch of songs and a whole bunch of meetings, they decided that they wanted to sign me and not my boy. That’s how it goes in this business. One of us has to get in and get our foot in the door and then the rest of us will get in. That’s how they always were. They never tried to make me do anything I didn’t want to do. They’re definitely supportive of me as a label and they’ve definitely become a family to me. It’s a crazy story how it happened.
Were you nervous when you were first rhyming for Kanye?
Oh yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t even about to rap for him, actually. The person I was with was telling me to rap for him as he was walking away. I was super-nervous because I had never met a celebrity. I asked him if I could rap for him and he told me he had to go. I was like, ‘Please, man, I’m an aspiring MC!’ He was walking away and as soon as he got to the front door of the radio station, he just stopped and started looking at me and was bobbing his head. I just started looking at the ground because I was so nervous then. I had to remember all the raps that I had. It was definitely nerve-racking but I got through it, man. It was crazy.
Based on how you rapped there, did you think you would have a chance to work with Kanye West in the future?
Nah. I always had faith that it would happen for me, I just didn’t know how it would happen. As far as rapping for Kanye, I look back on it and it definitely wasn’t that great. I was 18 and I just turned 20 a couple of days ago. I guess he saw something. He saw the potential and he invited me to his listening party the next day. That’s where he got my contact and he started hitting us a little bit more often and started checking up on us. He told us that he wasn’t looking for any new artists at the time so I didn’t expect it to turn out the way that it did, but as I sent him the music and stuff, he called me one day and told me that he was ready to sign me. He said he wanted to sign me to the label and it was like as soon as I got accepted to Michigan State University, I had a full ride, I came to a choice where I could either go to school or do I do this music thing.
The funny thing, and I don’t mean to go on and on, but the funny thing is that my mom used to be an actress. She used to act with Denzel. She went to acting school with Denzel in New York. She was getting mad checks for doing commercials. She had my brother after that and then she went to Hollywood. That’s where she was getting her roles. That’s where she had me. I was born in Hollywood. She had to either follow her dream and be a good actress or be a good mom because my dad wasn’t really around like that. So she gave up her dream and as soon as my opportunity for my dream came to fruition, she was definitely supportive of it. She said I could always go back to school, so when the chance came, it was definitely like a blessing. I’m going to ride it until the wheels fall off, man.
What do you think Kanye saw in you that first time?
I asked him. He said he thought my raps were super-dope. He really liked my voice too, he said. He said the inflection in my voice he could tell that I would be real good at making songs and stuff. He said he knew he wanted to sign me as soon as I started rapping but he didn’t tell me until a year later. I guess he just heard the potential when he heard my voice. I was always a cool punchline rapper. I always had a few punchlines. I guess he just saw that.
You released a mixtape, Finally Famous, a few months ago. How did that do for you?
It’s definitely a fire mixtape. It got up on a few sites. Kanye is on there telling how he met me and what he thought of me. Mr. Bentley is on there. When you listen to the mixtape, he’ll tell you about the time I rapped for him at the radio station. There’s definitely a lot of good lyrics on there. I basically did the mixtape to let people know that I could really rap. The lyricism on the mixtape is definitely evident and it’s definitely there, but the album is going to be on a whole ‘nother level as far as songwriting and as far as music and as far as all of that goes. The mixtape is definitely to let people know that I spit and that I’m not just another rapper.
Did you get the response you wanted from Finally Famous?
I just did it just to put something out. A lot of people heard it but I guess a lot of people haven’t heard it. The response has been good. It’s always good and bad, but the responses have been real good. It’s like 22 or 23 tracks on there. Definitely, man, there’s some good stuff on there. I want the people to hear it.
How close will the Finally Famous mixtape sound to your album?
I got a couple of tracks on there to preview the album, but even the tracks on there that are previews to the album, I’ve kind of changed it around and added to it and taken away some of the stuff. It’s kind of the same concept with the album. It’s basically about coming from nothing to something and to finally be a part of this. It’s like we’ve been waiting. That’s what the “Finally” part is for and the “Famous” is for the glamour and glitz. I think it’s a good preview. I think it’s a good appetizer for the album and the album is definitely going to be the entrée or the main course. I think it’s a good preview for the people, but the album is definitely on another level musically. I spent my whole life working on this album, so it should be one of the best albums of this year.
What else can you tell us about the album?
Oh, I just signed with Def Jam a couple of weeks ago. The album is definitely 90% done. The only parts I gotta do now are just put all the features I want on it. I’m definitely going to have a few features, not a lot. I have a few people I don’t want to give away, but of course Kanye is going to be on there. It’s almost done, man. I’m almost ready to give it to the people. Once I hit, I’m going to hit hard. We’re going to drop this stuff and it’s going to be great, man. I can’t wait. I feel like it’s going to be great for the people because I don’t feel like people get a lot of music that they can relate to all of the time. I think that’s why Kanye does so well. This music can definitely inspire people. It’s definitely one of those albums. “Getcha Some”, for me, is like an introduction record. It’s to let the people know that there are parts of me that are flashy but the album definitely isn’t like that. There’s a lot of very personal tracks on the album. It’s definitely for young people, old people and just people going through life stuff. I really can’t wait to drop it. I think it’s going to change music.
The WrighTrax produced most of the album. What was it like working with them?
Oh, man, it was great. We came up together. We were always in the same city, Detroit, so we worked a lot on it. And Kanye is signing them as well to Very Good Beats, that’s the production avenue of GOOD Music. He’s signing them up with me and we’re coming up together. It was just amazing working with them. They’re really going to be very big producers. I can’t wait for them to get their shine on because they deserve it. They’re really doing it.
How did Kanye help you on your album?
He did a couple of tracks too. Kanye is amazing, man. He helped me on the rap part too. He didn’t write anything for me, but he helped me develop as a lyricist, more so guiding me. He’s definitely a major part. He’s like my mentor. He’s my friend. He’s all of that. He definitely shows me the ins and outs in the studio as far as recording and how to write. He taught me how to write in my head. I don’t write on paper anymore. I just do it in my head which is way better because you only remember what’s really good. So if you can remember it, then it sounds good. At least that’s how I look at it. He’s definitely helped me out a lot as far as the album goes and it’s going to be quality, man.
How important is it to you for fans to see you as an artist that doesn’t have to have a Kanye beat or a Kanye verse for them to want to check for you?
It’s definitely important to me. My first single is just me by myself. I think it’s important to show that you are strong by yourself. Kanye is definitely a help and he definitely gives me his stamp, but when people definitely get to know me, they’ll see my individuality. It’s definitely going to be an experience for people and I definitely think that it’s important that the people see my individuality and that they give it a listen. I’m definitely not worried about being characterized as “Kanye’s artist” all the time. Even though I am his artist, I think people will definitely see the individuality. I’m not worried about it at all. I think it’s definitely important that people do see you as an individual and take you seriously and don’t just see you as somebody else’s artist.
What do you have to do to succeed in the game today?
It all depends on what type of artist you’re trying to be. I definitely want to be around for a long time so I don’t try to follow the trends too much as far as the songs and the singles go. Different artists need different things and it just all depends on what you’re going for, if you’re trying to be a ringtone rapper or if you’re trying to be a rapper who sells albums. It’s very hard in this day and age depending on what you’re going for.
What’s the next move for Big Sean?
We’re shooting the “Getcha Some” video. That’s about to drop any day. I’m just getting the album together and doing a lot of adds and traveling. I’ll be with Kanye on the Glow in the Dark tour. Unfortunately that show is already jam-packed and it’s four hours long. I’ll get to perform a few songs. I’ll be doing a lot of shows and videos and promo. They’ll be seeing a lot of me and I hope they like it. If they like it they’re going to be getting a lot of it.