Big Sean: Detroit State of Mind

From Coney Island hot dogs to social policy, Lions heartbreaks, and Royce da 5'9's influence, HipHopDX asks G.O.O.D. Music's sensation to talk about his city, as Detroit's next big star.

Big Sean's music is a versatile mix of punchlines, inspirational quips and references to girls and gear, but there are two things you can almost always count on hearing in his songs: his trademark “boi” adlib and shout outs to his hometown of Detroit. Whether he's on his BET Hip-Hop Awards cipher alongside Kanye West and his other G.O.O.D. Music cohorts, or on his new “My Last” single with Chris Brown, it's clear that he's got love for the city that made him—especially the West Side, where he came up.

In an interview with HipHopDX, Big Sean talks about the Motor City: the ups, the downs, and everything in between.

HipHopDX: You shout out the West Side of Detroit in about every song you do. If you were chillin' with someone from out of town, what are five spots that are really important to you? Whether they're landmarks, places you've frequented, or what.

Big Sean: I would take somebody to Motor City Soul Food, that good ass spot on 7 Mile and Meyers. I would take them to my grandma's house. I actually took MTV to my grandma's house one time. I would take them to different sides of the hood, we'd go over by my mom's house. Then to the Murder Mac for sure, that's a classic landmark, I feel like K-Deezy really inspired that and made that big. The fifth place I would take them to, I would have to take them to Dexter. That's some real West Side shit right there.

DX: What was that like, taking MTV to your grandma's house?

Big Sean: It was dope as hell for my grandma to really see that, especially for her to be a part of an older generation. It really hit her that, “Man, this is really paying off.” She was one of the people who really wanted me to go to college, and I didn't go, I decided to follow my dream and do music instead. She's really happy that it's paying off. To her, the newspaper and stuff like that is bigger than MTV. She also sees me in the newspaper a lot, and she's like, “Wow.”

DX: We're both from Michigan, and we know that we have some tough teams to root for—the Pistons, the Lions, and the Tigers for a long time, too. What's the most difficult team to root for?

Big Sean: The [Detroit] Lions. I like the Lions, I got so much love for the Lions. Because they're a good team, it's just hard for them to win one, if that makes any sense. But they have great potential, and I have so much love for them.

DX: When we drafted Charles Rogers, I thought it was about to go down.

Big Sean: Exactly! But they're getting better, you can see they're getting better as a team for sure, even though their streak still kind of sucks.

DX: St. Andrews Hall and The Shelter are a venue that a lot of Detroit artists look up to and revere. What's the best or most memorable show you've ever been to there?

Big Sean: I haven't been to too many shows there, but I've been to a few. It was probably the Earlly Mac concert I went to. He's definitely one of my peers, but when I think about it, that was the most memorable concert there to me. There were a lot of people there like Ro Spit, Jay John, SAYITAINTTONE and all those guys. That was the most memorable because a lot of those are my best friends, and I was excited to see him rocking it and having it nice and packed out, having a good crowd. That was definitely one of the most memorable concerts I've been to there. But the most memorable concert in Detroiti, to me, was my Hometown Heroes concert that I had at the Filmore.

DX: I was about to ask you about that. You've done sold out shows around the country, so what was that one like?

Big Sean: It was dope! Like you said, I've been doing sold out shows from New York to LA, Atlanta, the Carolinas, Dallas, Austin and Houston. A number of big cities, including the Midwest. So for me to come back to Detroit and it to be so fucking big. The in-store we did at Revive, Fox 2 News came out. They had never seen a line like that in Birmingham, [Michigan]. The owners of the Filmore said they had never seen it so packed for a Rap concert; it was more packed than Gucci Mane, and even more than Mike Posner when he was there. I was surprised, appalled, happy. Couldn't believe it. I used to perform across the street at Club Bleu about a year and a half ago, for like 100 people. Sometimes, they wouldn't even be looking at me or paying attention to me. And I'm eager to I shed a tear and everything. If there was anybody more happy, I can't  imagine, because I was  just on a whole 'nother level. And I'm eager to take it to a higher level than that. I want to sell out the Fox Theater, I want to sell out Commerica Park, I want to sell out Ford Field. I've got a burning desire man, and I figure the best way to do it is to take over the world.

DX: One thing some Detroit artists have harped on is how they'll get love all over the world, but won't get as much when they're back at home.

Big Sean: I think Detroit is a place where you really have to earn their respect. They're not going to fuck with you off-rip, and they're not going to fuck with you. It doesn't matter who you're signed to, who you are. “I don't care what you've done. I got a cousin that can rap better than you, I can rap better than you, my sister can rap better than you.” That's the whole mentality here. But when they see somebody who really strikes them, you're the man here. Kid Rock is the man because he's really proven himself. Trick Trick is the man here. You really have to gain people over and gain their respect, and prove why you deserve that spot. Once you do that, they support you like hell, man. And that's the best way, I feel like.

DX: On a Mick Boogie mixtape a while ago, you were on a song with T3 and Black Milk. Did you get to the go to the studio with them for that song?

Big Sean: We didn't go to the studio for that track, but I've been to the studio with Black Milk, and I've been to the studio with T3 as well. I'd like to say they're both legends to me, and definitely people I look up to. That was dope to collab with them, we definitely need to do some more work together soon.

DX: You were also on Royce Da 5'9”'s song “My Own Planet.” What's it like working with him?

Big Sean: Royce [Da 5'9] is super down to earth. He's a legend in my eyes, the way he puts shit together is untouchable. He's one of the best out, and I say that with confidence. And I'm proud of that, he's actually from the exact same hood as me, same street and everything. Like 6 Mile and Curtis, around that area, Northlawn and shit. He's exactly from the same place as me, and I'm proud that everything is working out for him with Slaughterhouse and Shady [Records], because he really deserves it. He's an absolute O.G., for real.

DX: You've been to the studio with T3, Black Milk, Royce, and I'm sure a bunch of other Detroit artists. What are some things they've ever told you or taught you, whether it's musically in the studio or otherwise, that have helped you go further?

Big Sean: Just hearing peoples' stories and what they've had to go through personally is always helpful, especially in my situation as a newer artist. Royce has definitely been through a lot, same for Black Milk and a lot of these people. They definitely give their two cents, which helps me out so much. Everybody I work with in general, I think I learn from. Even people like Wiz Khalifa, Mike Posner, Black Milk, Royce Da 5'9”, T3, Pharrell, Kanye [West], even Jay-Z. Being in the studio with people like that have helped me out and taught me so much.

DX: If we're going to talk about Michigan, we have to talk about Coney Island. To people that aren't from here, what makes Coney Island so serious, and which Coney in Detroit is your favorite?

Big Sean: Coney Island is in everybody's neighborhood. It's something that people can come to to connect with. Kids after school go to Coney Island, you go with your homies to meet up and get some good food. It's food they make on the spot. It's definitely some hood shit, but it's good. It has soul to it, it has feeling to it. People make that food with real feeling, man. That's why I think a lot of the Coney Islands are still in business, and people support them so heavy. I personally like the grilled chicken pitas, the fried pitas, chili cheese fries, all that type of shit. It's just so good, man. I don't know what it is about it. And it feels good. You can always relate a Coney Island to your hood, and I feel like that's why people relate to it so well.

DX: News also released recently that half of Detroit's public schools may be getting shut down for budget cuts.

Big Sean: Yeah, I heard about that. I went back to Cass High School when I brought MTV here, and they were telling me they were shutting down a lot of the schools. That's real disheartening. There's certain schools, like Cass, Renaissance and King where people really had to take a placement test to get into, and they're just thinking about throwing everybody into schools like that that try to go above and beyond. It's tragic, and I think it's something that people can help control by going out and voting for certain things. That's the most important thing. People can control their own destiny, especially in our city. I just think it's important to go out and vote for whatever best benefits your city. And these elections are all important, it's not just the presidential election. Even with the last election for the House of Representatives, I was disappointed with how many people didn't go out for that, and how many Republican seats were taken. That really just makes it way harder for [President Barack] Obama. But it relates to whatever on a bigger level and a smaller level. I think people need to sign petitions, vote, and put money back into our public schools. I commend (Detroit native and former NBA player) Jalen Rose. He's starting his own charter school in Michigan. I don't know if it's in Detroit, but it's going to be in Michigan. He's really committed to that because he feels a certain way about this too, and I thought that was some real O.G. shit to do.

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40 Comments

  • Nina

    A lot of people don't know this niggga really from Cali

  • Anonymous

    the album going to be trash

  • Alley Cat

    the thing is, this city is complex, its grimey, its hard, and niggaz want somebody that embody that shit. besides that the east and west have somewhat different sides of the fence they approach from. east = grimey and gutta west = flashy with swag neither side wants the other to blow up nationally before the other. it is what it is. DETROIT 4 LIFE NIGGAZ!

  • mack n bewick

    One time for the Eastside. OK he's not the one we want to Rep us.the gangstas all want one of our own to shine n bring that Eastside image to the masses.

  • EMINEMSTAN

    BIG SEAN AINT DETROIT EMINEM ON VICODINS,PERCS,WEED,JACK DANIELS,X >>>>BIG SEAN ON HIS BEST DAY

  • E

    yall niggas hating really sound ignorant as fuck i swear niggas dont never give credit when its do, big sean reppin the city hard and why the nigga gotta be homo cuz of his swag most of the shit he rock you niggas NEVER heard of i cant stand negative people expect big things from big sean cuz this guy can flow

  • D Flow

    1.) You cant call someone gay and ur using the phrase "emo." WTF is dat about?? You sound like the fag! 2.) STOP HATING ON THE D! Or if you are gonna hate come here and say it to our face!!...yea didn't think so! 3.) Big ups to Big Sean. The dude is cold w/the mic, HANDS DOWN!!! Just cus you rap about bricks, hoes, and guns dont make you cold, or a gangster. Just makes you a one subject rapper. Get out experience life and make some real music 4.) Schoolcraft fo life! DETROIT STAND UP!! R.I.P. DILLA, PROOF, AND BLADE ICEWOOD!!!!!

  • Big sean

    Big sean is a great up and coming artist. I can't wait til the Album comes out. Hometown hero right there.

  • 8 AND GRATIOT

    NIGGAS BE HATING ON THEY ON PEOPLE MAN.....SMFH THATS WHATS WRONG WIT DETROIT NOW.....AND SO WHAT THIS NIGGA NOT SELLING SHIT OR ON SOME HARD SHIT....THAT DONT REALLY MAKE HIM SOFT. EVEN IF HE IS SOFT HE A NIGGA THAT MADE IT FROM HERE AND HE REPPING DETROIT HEAVEY. AND TO THE DUDE THAT SAID HE STAY IN CALI NIGGA WHO GIVES A FUCK, I WOULD MOVE TO IF NIGGAS GO DO MAD HATING N SHIT...ANYWAYS PROPS TO BIG SEAN...FOR ACTUALLY REPPING OUR CITY AND ONLY BIG THINGS GO COME YO WAY.

  • 7mile and Gratiot

    People should not share their own personal homosexual tendencies on here, Furthermore.....shout to every body from my city......we invented the likeness of the cars these scrubs drive and in turn we got the whole country hating! I Like.....Boi!

    • James Vega

      OK... So Detroit invented the likeness of the cars.. Great job.. so now that that's over with... uuhh...

  • Anonymous

    not that much to say here, he do it

  • Kamar Roxwel Robinson

    Im kinda shock niggas hatin so tuff on a nigga tryna put on. It took a min to believe but the nigga dope. Not like some of the niggas im guessing yall like talkin bricks, boes, bitchs and Moet and broke as fuck at open mics... so im routing May 2 when that album drop... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1o1HFz0UbI

  • FreshDetroitArt

    Yo This is from the Heart....If u dont like Detroit EAT A DICK! and if U dont like Big sean EAT A FAT DICK! Tha nigga is cold....Detroit actually revolutionize the whole country....in a lump sum Eat a dick

  • clayton bigsby

    I don't really listen to many rappers. 48% of them are on the DL. The other 48% are actors. If your gaydar don't go off when you see this dude your probably one. This the metro sexual that was crying on stage right. This whole generation is a bunch of emo sensitive wack male pocket book carrying lames. Wiz is crying on stage now. We already know the genes in his family are screwed up. He's feminine and his sister is a dude. That Barney really messed this generation up.

  • Anonymous

    The hate from these so called Detroit residents is the reason why you wont ever catch me in Detroit. Douchebags.

  • hank

    Big Sean can make a decent song..detroit is a shit hole...that is all

  • 7mile and Gratiot

    Right quit hating on a playa....i neva seen you around Finney either....anyway shout out to Big Sean who be rapping his ass off Boi!!!

  • Anonymous

    j dilla turnin in his grave....tryin to soft dee's image.....cmon... detroit is soul,struggle,risin...not soft shit....no disrespect but dis is not wha reps the d... dilla have mercy on them souls...

    • E

      you sound dumb as shit you obviously dont know good music when you hear smh and you should happy somebody coming out the D dumb ass

  • train

    ive never heard of this nigga til he signed with kanye in detroit. Never seen this nigga around cass im not sure if this man is false repping or he was just a lame here lol....glad he made though living better than the rest of us. lmao at the guy who said he grew up in southfield..i wouldnt even be mad

    • Jayyyy

      You people are idiots. Whether you like Detroit or not...who gives a fuck, shut the hell up. Your ignorant. Detroit is a cool city despite our flaws, but you probably aren't from here which brings us back to the reason why you should shut the hell up. Now for Big Sean...Sean Anderson. A Detroit native NO FALSE CLAIMING. My fam grew up around him. He stayed near 6 mile. And he DID attend Cass, he's in the yearbook and everything. He won the Best Rapper award at CT grammys also. He was NOT a lame, I assure you. He was actually the man, so you were probably the lame. And he cried tears of joy...because he's fucking successful, which you wouldnt know anything about, he was happy to see alll the support. Cass Tech...one of the best schools not only in Detroit but in the nation...THANK YOU.

  • midwest player

    Damn, 'some' of yall Detroit cats sound like real haterz for reel. I thought yall was on some congrats to players who actually didnt turn murderer or drug dealer.. I guess not. this is not a shot at yall at all, but maybe all the hate partially contributes to the downfall of Detroit. Stop hatin' on cats trynna do positive shit! crabs in a barrel ya digg. and watch, someone cant help but to reply with a "fuck you" or something negative.

    • Alley Cat

      the thing is, this city is complex, its grimey, its hard, and niggaz want somebody that embody that shit. besides that the east and west have somewhat different sides of the fence they approach from. east = grimey and gutta west = flashy with swag neither side wants the other to blow up nationally before the other. it is what it is. DETROIT 4 LIFE NIGGAZ!

    • Jscot

      Exactly, Detroit niggas so quick to hate on they own.

  • Anonymous

    I am a new fan of his music. He goes Hard.

  • kcadence

    big sean is not a good rapper he flows the same on every verse his voice is whiny and annoying and he didnt originate the rhyme thing that drake does. big pun is the only one ive heard do it in dream shatterer he says " snake bite, anaconda" REAL TALK BITCHES!!

    • sharksbreath

      So the softest fake rapper in the game Drake. Took his flow from the next softest gay rapper in the game. Where you get points for that. The male pocketbook club.

    • omega718

      Drake said in print that he got that flow from Big Sean, stop hatin cause he getting it in. Crab ass

  • iMCompleX

    I can't believe niggas still freely and openly hate on ppl who are doing something with their life, that's not a good look. Keep putting on for the city. Someone answer me this how can another nigga make u soft? U made ya self look soft for saying that shit @kaka #ImOnIt&ImOffThat!

  • Rap101

    DX: St. Andrews Hall and The Shelter are a venue that a lot of Detroit artists look up to and revere. What's the best or most memorable show you've ever been to there? Big Sean: I haven't been to too many shows there, but I've been to a few hahahahah bitch grew up in soutfield

    • Jscot

      Fucking hater... That nigga grew up on the westside. I bet you more than half of niggas rappin from the D and people in Detroit period have never been to a show at St Andrews. St. Andrews plays to a certain niche. The niche that Detroit niggas dont really even fuck with. You probably the southfield nigga bozo.

  • kaka

    fuck this gay skinny jean tight clothing wearin ass nikka reppin the D makin us soft nikka we dont need you bitchazz rep cali cuz u live over there

    • tr3

      Nah pimp. He nice to me but we don't except transfers in Cali. we got enough problems trying to get ourselves on to be starting no adoptions. Don't hate ANYBODY would rather live in Cali the Detriot lol.

  • Jugo

    Much respect to the homie Big Sean. Can't wait for the debut album to drop.

  • Anonymous

    I like Big Sean even though i do feel like it is hotter artists here in d Da het put'n da city on gotta respesct that wish him all the success in the world ...