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Big Sean

Big Sean

Sean Michael Leonard Anderson[1] (born March 25, 1988), known professionally as Big Sean,[2] (stylized as BIG SEAN), is an American rapper, singer and songwriter. 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, which peaked at #3 on The US Billboard 200, and went Platinum. He released his second studio album, Hall of Fame, in 2013, that peaked at #3 on The Billboard 200, and went Gold. Sean's next albums, Dark Sky Paradise (2015) and I Decided (2017), both peaked atop the US Billboard 200 charts and received Platinum status.

Big Sean
Background information
Birth nameSean Michael Leonard Anderson
Born(1988-03-25)March 25, 1988
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active2007–present
Associated acts
Websiteuknowbigsean.com [69]

Early life

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 his grandmother.[2][4] Anderson's grandmother, Mildred Leonard, served in World War II, and was one of the first ever black female captains in the United States Army.[5] He attended the Detroit Waldorf School and graduated from Cass Technical High School with a 3.7 GPA.[6]

Musical career

2005–06: Career beginnings

In his later years in high school, Sean showed his rhyming skills on a weekly basis as part of a rap battle contest held by Detroit hip-hop station WHTD.[7] 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."[8] After the freestyle, Sean left West his demo tape. Two years later, West signed Big Sean to GOOD Music. Sean has cited West, Eminem, The Notorious B.I.G., and J Dilla as his influences.[9][10]

2007–10: Mixtapes and internet following

Sean in 2009.

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

An unauthorized leak of his collaboration with Drake, called "Made" made its way onto the internet on April 30, 2010. In an interview with TheHipHopUpdate.com 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.[14]

2011–12: Finally Famous and Detroit

Sean in 2011.

Sean in 2011.

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.[15] According to Amazon.com, 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.[16] The official tracklist was revealed on June 7.[17]

Finally Famous, Sean's debut studio album, was released June 28, 2011, and spawned three hit singles; "My Last", "Marvin & Chardonnay" and "Dance (Ass)". 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.[18][19][20][21] 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.[22] 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.[23] On October 19, 2011, Kanye West announced on his Twitter plans for a Spring 2012 GOOD Music album release.[24] On April 6, 2012, "Mercy", the lead single from the GOOD Music compilation album, Cruel Summer, was released.[25] The song, produced by newly signed in-house producer Lifted, features Big Sean along with Kanye West, Pusha T and southern rapper 2 Chainz.[26] Big Sean then announced his fourth mixtape would be titled "Detroit" and would serve as a lead-in to his second studio album.[24] 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.

2013–15: Hall of Fame and Dark Sky Paradise

Sean performing in April 2015.

Sean performing in April 2015.

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".[27] 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.[28] 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.[29][30] "I Don't Fuck with You" was released to iTunes on September 19, 2014.[31] In an interview with Sway Calloway, Sean confirmed that Lil Wayne will be featured on the album.[32]

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.[33] The next day, Big Sean posted a trailer to his new album which revealed the album's release date as February 24, 2015.[34] The album, Dark Sky Paradise debuted atop the Billboard 200 making it his first No. 1 album.[35] 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)".

2016–18: TWENTY88, I Decided. and Double or Nothing

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.[36] 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. 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.[37]

On October 31, 2016, Big Sean released "Bounce Back" as the lead single from his fourth studio album, I Decided, which was released February 3, 2017.[38] "Moves" was released as an instant-grat on December 16, 2016. Sean has consulted the advice of Jay Z and Rick Rubin while working on the album.[39] Big Sean achieved his second number one album on the Billboard 200 chart, as I Decided debuted at the top. It earned 151,000 equivalent album units in the week of February 9, according to Nielsen Music. 65,000 of the amount were in pure album sales.[40] As of April 18, 2017, I Decided was certified gold.[41]

Two months after the release of I Decided, Big Sean was offered the official Key to the City of Detroit for his contribution to his own Sean Anderson foundation.[42][43][44]

On November 3, 2017, Sean released the single "Pull Up N Wreck" featuring 21 Savage in collaboration with producer Metro Boomin. A month later, it was announced that Sean and Metro Boomin were to release a collaborative album titled Double or Nothing (2017). The album released on December 8, 2017, which included features from Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Kash Doll, Young Thug, and Swae Lee, and included the single "Pull Up N Wreck".[45]

2019–present: Don Life

On July 24, 2019, Big Sean released his first solo single since 2017 titled "Overtime", produced by Hit-Boy, Key Wane, and the Tucker Brothers.[46] In an interview with Beats 1 Radio, Sean said he was "returning to his roots" with the single ahead of his forthcoming album Don Life.[47] On July 26, he released the song "Single Again" which includes background vocals from Jhené Aiko and Ty Dolla $ign. Prior to the release of the single, Sean also wrote to social media "I never knew that I didn’t know how to be alone in life. I always would find so much joy n happiness in a relationship or being with friends, but I didn’t know how important it was to be in a relationship with yourself."[48]

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.[49] He subsequently began dating actress Naya Rivera, whom he first met on Twitter; their relationship became public in April 2013, but Sean told Complex that they had been dating for a while beforehand.[28] Sean and Rivera announced their engagement in October 2013, but ended the engagement in April 2014.[50][51] In October 2014, singer Ariana Grande confirmed that she and Big Sean were dating.[52] In April 2015, the couple ended their relationship after eight months.[53] Big Sean was in a relationship with singer Jhené Aiko from 2016 to 2019.[54][55]

In late October 2008, Big Sean was featured in The Source and headlined the "Style" section of the magazine.[56] In the article Sean talks about his personal style and says his favorite clothing brands are 10 Deep, Billionaire Boys Club, and Bape. Big Sean posed in the Winter 2008 Billionaire Boys Club lookbook,[57] and is a consistent representative of Ti$A[58] 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,[59] and is a follower of the Rosewood clothing style.[60] In 2013, Big Sean launched his own clothing company, Aura Gold.[61][62]

On November 28, 2017, Big Sean purchased an 11,000 square foot home, with 7 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms home in Beverly Hills. The house was previously owned by Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. Originally listed at $11 million, Big Sean acquired it for $8.7 million.[63]

On August 4, 2011, Big Sean was arrested for third-degree sexual assault at a concert in Lewiston, New York.[64] On October 26, he pleaded guilty to second-degree unlawful imprisonment, and was fined $750;[65] the charges of third-degree sexual abuse were dropped as part of the plea bargain.[66] Big Sean's attorney, Scott Leemon, stated that Sean "did not engage in any type of sexual misconduct."[65][67]


  • Finally Famous (2011)

  • Hall of Fame (2013)

  • Dark Sky Paradise (2015)

  • I Decided (2017)

  • Double or Nothing (with Metro Boomin) (2017)


  • I Am Finally Famous Tour (2011)

  • Detroit Tour (2013)

  • Hall of Fame Tour (2014)

  • I Decided Tour (2017)

Supporting act
  • J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive Tour (2015)

  • Rihanna – Anti World Tour (2016)

See also

  • List of awards and nominations received by Big Sean


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