“You gonna have to kill me to stop me from gettin’ it. Feel me?” Big Sean explains at the opening of his new impromptu cut, aptly titled “1st Quarter Freestyle.” It’s clear that Big Sean’s successes have brought him to a mind state where he battles with the notion from fans and peers that he’s gone too Pop. Over threatening keys (produced by Key Wane and Travis $cott), Sean reminds us that’s not the case. The video, directed by Mike Carson, pairs dark backgrounds and kaleidoscope-style visuals, as Sean drops a damn-near 6-minute manifesto that ranges in a number of discussion points. He refers to his lady, Naya Rivera, as “the baddest.”
Sean cites his rise to fame in less than guilty terms: “If I listened to you bitches, I would still be on the campus,” he rhymes, “but instead I’m at The Standard with a girl who got some standards.” He continues on to discuss getting head in the jacuzzi from a girl from Los Angeles (Naya’s hometown…hmmm), but since she doesn’t come up for air, he thinks she’s from Atlantis (good lungs, perhaps?) He makes a few vague references to collaborating with Grammy Award-winning acts (sadly not Kendrick Lamar in this instance), while fielding calls from friends asking him to hook them up with Pop star Ariana Grande (showing his reach into the mainstream). While Big Sean proves he still has the lyrical chops to carry through an extensive freestyle that he regards as the mixtape version of himself, he still needs the money. “I’m way too skinny for jail ho,” he says, “so I gotta stay rich enough just for the bail ho.” The video switches to a double-lensed image of Sean in a flannel as he rattles off a list of Detroit rappers including Danny Brown. “We run the city,” he says, “proudly opening his arms to reveal his Detroit Pistons jersey on underneath.
Sometimes reminders need to be served when rappers move into the Pop realm, where they show they’re still skillful enough for Hip Hop’s landscape. Here though, it feels like Big Sean’s “1st Quarter Freestyle” was more to prove it to himself. We all just came along for the ride.