Big Sean

Big Sean

Big Sean performing in 2015
Background information
Birth name Sean Michael Leonard Anderson
Born (1988-03-25) March 25, 1988
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
Years active 2007–present
Associated acts

Sean Michael Leonard Anderson[1] (born March 25, 1988), known professionally as Big Sean,[2] is an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. Sean signed with Kanye West's GOOD Music in 2007, Def Jam Recordings in 2008 and Roc Nation in 2014. After releasing a number of mixtapes, Sean released his debut studio album, Finally Famous, in 2011. He released his second studio album, Hall of Fame, on August 27, 2013. Sean's third studio album Dark Sky Paradise was released in 2015 and which earned him his first No. 1 studio album.

Life and career

1988–2003: Early life and career beginnings

Sean Michael Leonard Anderson was born on March 25, 1988 in Santa Monica, California[3] to Myra and James Anderson. When he was 3 months old, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he was raised by his mother, a school teacher, and grandmother.[2][4] He attended the Detroit Waldorf School and graduated from Cass Technical High School with a 3.7 GPA.[5] Big Sean is often heard saying "west side" in his songs; he is referring to the west side of his hometown Detroit, Michigan. In his later years in high school, Sean gained a valuable relationship with Detroit hip-hop station WHTD; he would show his rhyming skills on a weekly basis as part of a rap battle contest held by the station.[6] In 2005, Kanye West was doing a radio interview at 102.7 FM. Hearing about this, Sean headed over to the station to meet West and perform some freestyle. Initially West was reluctant to hear him, however he gave Sean 16 bars to rap for him. According to Big Sean, West enjoyed his freestyle: "As we get to the entrance of the radio station ... we stopped in the middle of the doorway. He starts looking at me and bobbing his head,".[7] After the freestyle, Sean left West his demo tape. Two years later, West signed Big Sean to GOOD Music.

2007–2010: Mixtapes and internet following

Big Sean in 2009.

On September 30, 2007, Big Sean released his first official mixtape Finally Famous: The Mixtape. His hit single, "Get'cha Some", produced by WrighTrax, attained media attention and led to articles in The Source and the Detroit Metro Times. He also recorded a music video for "Get'cha Some", which was directed by Hype Williams.[8] Sean released a second mixtape hosted by Mick Boogie on April 16, 2009, called UKNOWBIGSEAN. It featured the songs "Million Dollars", "Get'cha Some" and "Supa Dupa". This mixtape includes 30 tracks.[9] Sean released a third mixtape hosted by Don Cannon on August 31, 2010 called Finally Famous Vol. 3: BIG, which features include major artists like Bun B, Chip tha Ripper, Curren$y, Tyga, Drake, Mike Posner, Chuck Inglish, Asher Roth, Dom Kennedy and Chiddy Bang. The mixtape includes 20 tracks.[10]

An unauthorized leak of his collaboration with Drake, called "Made" made its way onto the internet on April 30, 2010. In an interview with on May 1, Big Sean expressed his disappointment over the leak, calling it an unfinished version both musically and lyrically. Big Sean's official Facebook page confirmed that his debut album Finally Famous & Consequence's Cons TV would be released on September 14, 2010. On August 31, Big Sean tweeted that the album was not coming out on that day, but it would be coming out sometime in 2011.[11]

2011–2012: Finally Famous and Detroit

In an interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio, Sean discussed the role Kanye West and No I.D. have had in the development of his first studio album's sonic direction as well as the challenges of being inside the studio with West. The album's lead single, "My Last", features vocals from Chris Brown and was produced by No I.D.[12] According to, Big Sean's Finally Famous was delayed by a week, with a tentative release date set for June 28. Big Sean has revealed the cover art for his G.O.O.D. Music debut and explained that the one-week pushback was to be blamed on sample and feature clearance issues.[13] The official track list was revealed on June 7.[14]

Big Sean in 2011.

Finally Famous, Sean's debut studio album, was released June 28, 2011, and spawned three hit singles; "My Last", "Marvin & Chardonnay" and "Dance (A$$)". The album featured guest appearances from Lupe Fiasco, John Legend, Pharrell, Kanye West, Roscoe Dash, Wiz Khalifa, Chiddy Bang, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, and included production from No I.D., The Legendary Traxster, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Xaphoon Jones and The Neptunes.[15][16][17][18] When the songs "O.T.T.R." and "Flowers" were leaked in July 2011, speculation began of a new mixtape. Sean confirmed in an interview June 28, 2011 that a collaborative mixtape between him and "two other guys in hip-hop that are just killing it right now" will be released "in a couple of weeks". Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y, were the suspected featured rappers on the mixtape.[19] However, Wiz Khalifa later confirmed that there would be no mixtape, claiming that the songs were created, "just for fun".

In September 2011, Big Sean confirmed in an interview with the Daily Tribune that he'll be working on his second album during the I Am Finally Famous Tour and plans to release the album sometime in 2012.[20] On October 19, 2011, Kanye West announced on his Twitter plans for a Spring 2012 GOOD Music album release.[21] On April 6, 2012, "Mercy", the lead single from the GOOD Music compilation album, Cruel Summer, was released.[22] The song, produced by newly signed in-house producer Lifted, features Big Sean along with Kanye West, Pusha T and southern rapper 2 Chainz.[23] Big Sean then announced his fourth mixtape would be titled "Detroit" and would serve as a lead-in to his second studio album.[21] He then began promoting the mixtape, releasing short versions of the songs on his YouTube page. On September 5, 2012, Big Sean released the mixtape Detroit which features guest appearances from fellow rappers J. Cole, Juicy J, King Chip, French Montana, Royce da 5'9", Kendrick Lamar and Tyga.

2013–present: Hall of Fame, Dark Sky Paradise, and TWENTY88

Big Sean pushed back the release date of his second studio album Hall of Fame, and was eventually released on August 27, 2013. The album has skits to give it a "classic feel", and includes features from multiple artists, including Lil Wayne, Miguel, and Nas. The album's production was primarily handled by No I.D., and Key Wane along with additional production from Hit-Boy, and Da Internz, Mike Dean, Travis Scott, Xaphoon Jones and Young Chop among others. Big Sean also stated in an interview that he was in the studio with fellow Detroit native Eminem. Sean went on to say they made a "Detroit classic" but he is unsure if it will be on Hall of Fame because of "timing issues".[24] Hall of Fame had spawned five singles, "Guap", "Switch Up" featuring Common, "Beware" featuring Jhené Aiko and Lil Wayne, "Fire", and "Ashley" featuring Miguel.

A month prior to the release of Hall of Fame, Big Sean told Complex that he had already begun work on his third album due to the inspiration from his new relationship.[25] On September 12, 2014 Big Sean announced that he had signed with Roc Nation. Later that same day he released four new songs titled, "I Don't Fuck with You", "Paradise", "4th Quarter" and "Jit/Juke". Producers for these songs include, Mike Will Made It, DJ Mustard, Kanye West, DJ Dahi, Nate Fox, Da Internz, L&F, and Key Wane.[26][27] "I Don't Fuck with You" was released to iTunes on September 19, 2014.[28] In an interview with Sway Calloway, Sean confirmed that Lil Wayne will be featured on the album.[29]

On January 25, 2015 various artists who worked on Big Sean's upcoming third studio album such as Kanye West, Ty Dolla Sign, DJ Mustard, Drake, Travis Scott and Ariana Grande posted the album cover to Twitter or Instagram.[30] The next day, Big Sean posted a trailer to his new album which revealed the album's release date as February 24, 2015.[31] The album, Dark Sky Paradise debuted atop the Billboard 200 making it his first No. 1 album.[32] He would lead with Video singles for songs entitled "IDFWU", "Blessings", "I Know", "One Man Can Change The World", and "Play No Games." As of February 1, 2016, Dark Sky Paradise was certified platinum. On December 31, 2015, Big Sean released a track recapping 2015, "What A Year (Ft. Pharrell Williams & Detail)" and On March 25, 2016, Big Sean released a track to celebrate his 28th birthday, "Get My Shit Together". Two days later he announced a self-titled album with Jhené Aiko, as TWENTY88, scheduled to be released on April 1, 2016, exclusively on Tidal.[33] On April 5, 2016, the Album became available on Spotify and Apple Music. A week after the exclusive release of TWENT88 on Tidal, Big Sean and Jhené Aiko released a 15-minute short film called "Out of Love", which is composed of several recordings from the album.[34] Around the same month, upon the wake of the Flint water crisis, Big Sean tweeted to the city's official Twitter account, asking if he could do anything to help, and later on donated $10,000.[35] For his untitled "Fourth Studio album", he consulted the advice of Jay Z and Rick Rubin.[36]



Big Sean has listed Kanye West, Eminem, The Notorious B.I.G., and J Dilla as his influences.[37][38]


Supporting act

Personal life

Big Sean dated his high school sweetheart, Ashley Marie, whom he met when he was sixteen and started dating at nineteen until their break-up in early 2013.[39] He subsequently began dating actress Naya Rivera, whom he first met over Twitter; their relationship became public in April 2013, though Big Sean told Complex that they had been dating for a while beforehand.[25] Big Sean and Rivera announced their engagement in October 2013, but ended the engagement in April 2014.[40][41] In October 2014, singer Ariana Grande confirmed she and Big Sean were dating.[42] Sean and Grande made their red carpet debut at the 2015 Grammys.[43] In April 2015, the couple ended their relationship after 8 months of dating, due to a text message.[44]

In late October 2008, Big Sean was featured in The Source and headlined the "Style" section of the magazine.[45] In the article Sean talks about his own personal style and states that his favorite clothing brands are 10 Deep, Billionaire Boys Club, and Bape. Big Sean has posed in the Winter 2008 Billionaire Boys Club lookbook,[46] and is a consistent representative of Ti$A[47] clothing and hats, along with Chris Brown and Tyga. He also has an endorsement deal with Adidas through which he has released his own "Detroit Player" line of sneakers [48] and is a follower of the Rosewood clothing style.[49] In 2013, Big Sean launched his own clothing company, Aura Gold.[50][51]

Legal troubles

On August 4, 2011, Big Sean was arrested for third degree sexual assault at a concert in Lewiston, New York.[52] On October 26, he pleaded guilty to second-degree unlawful imprisonment, and was fined $750.[53] The charges of third-degree sexual abuse were dropped. Big Sean's attorney, Scott Leemon, stated that he "...did not engage in any type of sexual misconduct."[53]


Main article: Big Sean discography
Studio albums
Collaboration albums

Awards and nominations

BET Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2012 Big Sean Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Won
Best New Artist Won
"Marvin & Chardonnay" (with Kanye West and Roscoe Dash) Best Collaboration Nominated
2015 Big Sean Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
"I Don't Fuck with You" (with E-40) Best Collaboration Nominated
Video of the Year Nominated

BET Hip Hop Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2011 Himself Rookie of the year Nominated
Finally Famous Album of the Year Nominated
"My Last" (with Chris Brown) Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
2012 "Mercy" (with Kanye West, Pusha T and 2 Chainz) Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
Best Club Banger Nominated
Reese's Perfect Combo Award Won
Himself Made You Look Award Nominated
2013 Detroit Best Mixtape Won
2015 "I Don't Fuck with You" (featuring E-40) Best Club Banger Won
Best Collabo, Duo or Group Nominated
"Blessings" (featuring Drake & Kanye West) Won
People's Champ Award Won
Best Hip Hop Video Nominated
"Play No Games" (featuring Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign) Nominated
Himself Lyricist of the Year Nominated
MVP of the Year Nominated
Dark Sky Paradise Album of the Year Nominated
"One Man Can Change The World" (featuring Kanye West & John Legend) Impact Track Won

Billboard Music Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2012 Big Sean Top New Artist Nominated
2013 "Mercy" (with Kanye West, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz) Top Rap Song Nominated
2015 "I Don't Fuck With You" (with E-40) Top Rap Song Nominated

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2013 "Mercy" (with Kanye West, Pusha T and 2 Chainz) Best Rap Song Nominated
Best Rap Performance Nominated
2016 "One Man Can Change The World" (with Kanye West & John Legend) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration[54] Nominated

iHeartRadio Music Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2016 "Blessings" (featuring Drake and Kanye West) Hip Hop Song of the Year Nominated
Big Sean Hip Hop Artist of the Year Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2011 "My Last" Best New Artist Video Nominated
2015 "I Don't Fuck with You" (featuring E-40) Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
"One Man Can Change the World" (featuring Kanye West and John Legend) Best Video with a Social Message Won

People's Choice Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2016 Big Sean Favorite Hip-Hop Artist[55] Nominated


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  20. 1 2 "Tweet 126770388121292800". Twitter. October 19, 2011.
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  22. "G.O.O.D Music - Mercy". April 6, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
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  43. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
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  46. "Ti$A Online Shop — Home". Retrieved May 25, 2011.
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  48. "Video: Big Sean Talks About Working With Kanye West and the “Rosewood” Dress Code!". September 19, 2010.
  49. Harris, Chris (March 19, 2014). "Big Sean Talks About Aura Gold's Success and a Possible Collaboration with Been Trill". Complex.
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  52. 1 2 Pfeiffer, Rick. "Rapper Big Sean takes plea deal in Lewiston court » Local News". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  53. "Grammy Nominations 2016: See the Full List of Nominees". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  54. "People's Choice Awards: Fan Favorites in Movies, Music & TV -". Retrieved 6 November 2016.

External links

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