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Interview: Big Sean on his latest album, 'Hall Of Fame'.

Interview: Big Sean on his latest album, 'Hall Of Fame'.

Coup De Main spoke to Big Sean about his latest album, 'Hall Of Fame', as well as his clothing line 'Aura Gold' and what he wants his legacy to be, while he was in Auckland recently to play his first ever New Zealand show...

"I'm from a place where we need a lot of inspiration, and I just didn't want the same shit. I wanted to have something with some meaning behind it, some substance behind it. That's what I did and I always stick to what I want to do."

CDM: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today! This is such an honour.
BIG SEAN: Oh the honour's all mine, I've never been asked to draw myself. <looks at his reflection in a window> What kind of eyes do I have? You know, God made me in my beautiful form so I'm just trying to execute it. That sexy handsome chocolate man is me. I wish I had a picture of myself or something, so I can see how I really look.

CDM: Well, it's funny that you just described yourself as a "sexy handsome chocolate man", because I have a present for you! It's literally you as a sexy, handsome chocolate man; it's a cake-pop of your face, because dessert after breakfast is important.
BIG SEAN: <laughs> Straight-up, huh! That's awesome. Sexy chocolate man, is myself. Let me take this out of the box and see what it looks like. Wow, that's deep.

CDM: You're playing your very first New Zealand show tonight! How excited are you to finally be here?
BIG SEAN: I'm super excited. I didn't think anybody over here liked me, so it's exciting to come over here and see fans, and see a lot of beautiful people. You guys have a lot of cool people over here, pretty girls, cool dudes and everybody is laid back. I love it. Everybody has a great positive attitude and that's important. There's no bullshit over here, no suckers.

CDM: Have you had much of a chance to go sightseeing?
BIG SEAN: We went out last night to eat. We went to some Japanese restaurant where I ate a chicken heart. Have you eaten a chicken heart?
CDM: I couldn't ever. I'm too squeamish.
BIG SEAN: I'm squeamish too, I was surprised at myself. Was it good? It was alright, it was cool. I've probably eaten a chicken heart without knowing it, in chicken nuggets or something. If nobody had told me it was a chicken heart I wouldn't have known. As soon as I was chewing it, it kinda tasted like the heart of a chicken.
CDM: It's a mental thing.
BIG SEAN: Yeah, I think so. Seafood is one of my biggest pet peeves. I don't really like it that much, but I think it's more psychological.


CDM: Congrats on your second album, 'Hall Of Fame'! It was released on my birthday actually, so thank you for the present.
BIG SEAN: No problem! Did you get it? Good.

CDM: You've said that 'Nothing Is Stopping You' tells the story of how your dreams started unfolding, so it's nice that you have James Fauntleroy featuring on that song because I feel like he's someone who is definitely on the up and up. Do you hope for James to be living that dream as well?
BIG SEAN: Yeah, that's my homie. He's somebody who's super talented and had a great role on the album. He was also on songs like 'World Ablaze' on the intro and outro - he had a lot to do with the album. He's on the song 'Fire' too, he's a cool guy.

CDM: As you discuss in '10 2 10', you've got a very strong work ethic. Were there any experiences or people that in particular inspired you to work so hard?
BIG SEAN: Definitely people like Kanye, inspired me to work hard. He's somebody who I've seen put that grind in over the years. It's just people like him. There are so many people with great work ethics that I've been around. I try and take the best qualities from the people I admire and apply it to my own self. One of those is working hard.

CDM: Is there any advice that Kanye has given to you that has really stood out?
BIG SEAN: He's definitely given me a lot of advice just as a man and with music and all that. Most of the advice I've gotten from him has been 'follow your heart', and that's the advice I've mainly gotten from him indirectly. You know, not literally but figuratively, just through his actions. Definitely, that's the homie right there.

CDM: You received your 'First Chain' in 2009 from Kanye West, back when you signed to his G.O.O.D. Music label. Is that a favourite chain of yours? Do you own any other chains that you feel have important memories associated with them?
BIG SEAN: What's crazy is that I actually lost that chain and Kid Cudi ended up giving me his, so he's definitely my brother. That's why I put Cudi on the song 'First Chain'. I've got these lion chains that are really important to me that I wear a lot, they're cool. I feel that lions are loyal; they'll fuck you up if you fuck with them, I like them a lot. I use the lion as my mascot on my merchandise and my ads. How many chains? I've got a few but it doesn't even really matter to me anymore. It's funny because when I lost my first chain, I was so fucking hurt and I remember I was talking to my Grandma and she was like: "At least you didn't lose your life." I was like 'damn that's deep', and it just showed me that I was too obsessed with material shit. It also taught me that that stuff can be here today and gone tomorrow. It's just materials that's all it is and you can't worship something material so much, like I was. It was my everything. Chains and stuff are nice, don't get me wrong I love them and I wear chains, but I can do without it.
CDM: Memories are more important.
BIG SEAN: Straight up.

CDM: Was it important to you to include skits on the album?
BIG SEAN: I didn't get as many in as I wanted to on the album, but it was definitely important that I included some type of skits. When I did my 'Detroit' mixtape I had a lot of skits on there, but the label always tries to make you put less skits on the album. What I should have done was just put them at the end of the songs, but I wasn't thinking that much. You live and you learn, next time I'll do it that way. Just secret tracks, just eight minute long songs.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
BIG SEAN: Just the dreamers, I want people to feel like they can do anything.That's why I made songs like 'Nothing Is Stopping You', songs like 'Fire', songs like '10 2 10'. That was for the go-getters, the dreamers. Just also giving insight into situations that related to my life and that other people can also relate too, so it can help them through their lives. Songs like 'World Ablaze' - if your Mom or somebody you know has cancer, that song can help you through a lot. One of my big believers/supporters/fans, I remember I was talking to him and he was like: "Man, my Mom went into surgery last week for cancer and that song is my favourite song ever." That's what I made it for, for situations like that. I just want to make sure I get songs like that out in a broader aspect of things in terms of my catalogue as an artist, I want to have a variety of songs. Nothing's ever going to sound the same, everything I do is going to be different front the last. I'm glad I got songs like that out. Songs like 'Ashley' and songs like 'Beware' and just things that can relate to people in so many different ways.

CDM: You've said that you wanted to make a more inspirational album than your debut album. In light of hearing stories like that from your fans, do you feel like you've accomplished that?
BIG SEAN: Yeah, I feel like I accomplished that. I think so and hopefully they appreciate it. I wanted to make something for the dreamers. I'm from a place where we need a lot of inspiration, and I just didn't want the same shit. I wanted to have something with some meaning behind it, some substance behind it. That's what I did and I always stick to what I want to do. Period. That's something I learnt the hard way. Trying to conform and trying to do stuff because people want you to do stuff, or doing stuff just because people tell you to do stuff... even if it's Kanye telling me, if my heart isn't in it, then that's not the right thing to do.

CDM: What are your favourite lyrics that you've ever written?
BIG SEAN: Some of my favourite lyrics are on my song 'Fire', I think those lyrics are great on there. <raps> "I'm a real D boy, take a look up in my face. Never did real estate, and still put you in your place. I don't trust dog hoes, dog hoes got fleas. From where they rock ski-masks and don't nobody ski. Every time I spit a verse, my city like "Preach!". Niggas thought I got evicted how my shit up in the streets." Those are some good lyrics right there. <raps> "And grandma said when she saw my commercial: 'Stop having people at your shows that wasn't at rehearsals.'" That's one of my favourites too.

CDM: There are lots of rad guest-vocals on the new album, from Ellie Goulding to Miguel, how do you decide who to invite to collaborate with you?
BIG SEAN: I dunno, just whoever I feel like I want to collab with at the time. Just people who I'm feeling, like Miguel came through. He did that song so long ago before he even put his second album out and we had that song just in the stash. Before I had my 'Detroit' mixtape out, we had that song in the stash. It was really organic, we just came through and kicked it, we're homies. Ellie Goulding, I actually got the hook up with her through my homie Xaphoon Jones who was in the group Chiddy Bang. I sampled her on my first album too, so the relationship was already there. Ellie Goulding's a good girl right there. She's a homie. All the other features are just all organic, and features that added something to the song or the project. I don't want to get any features just for the name's sake. It was quality. I think what I came out with was great.

CDM: Earlier this year, you featured on Fall Out Boy's song, 'The Mighty Fall'. What was it like working with them on that song and then filming the music video with them?
BIG SEAN: Yo they're awesome man, cool dudes. They're just laid-back. I was surprised to hear that they were fans of me. It was great working with them, they were fun - you've just got to respect Fall Out Boy. It's cool to cross genres too. People sometimes talk shit because I like doing stuff in other genres and collaborating with other artists, but like I said, I'm going to do whatever the hell I wanna do. I work way too hard to not get paid to rap and I'mma get that paper any way I can. If I like the song I'm doing it. Period.

CDM: You also guest on Ariana Grande's new single, 'Right There'. How did that collaboration come about?
BIG SEAN: Ariana is a huge supporter of mine; she's a big fan - she told me that when I met her. She's cool, her voice is crazy, she's got a great, great voice. She sent the song over and we already had a relationship as friends, as homies. She sent it over and it was just easy to do it. She makes good music.

CDM: When you're recording your part for someone else's song, like for example Justin Bieber's 'As Long As You Love Me', are you given a brief or any instruction as to what you should rap about? Or do you write your own lyrics completely on your own?
BIG SEAN: Yeah, I write my own lyrics completely on my own. Sometimes I have people helping me with concepts or like choruses and stuff sometimes, but mostly I write all my own songs by myself, especially the verses and a lot of the choruses. However for instance in my song 'Beware', the producer wrote half of that chorus. I have a song called 'Mula' that was popular on my 'Detroit' mixtape, my homie [Alexander] Xplicit [Izquierdo] wrote that chorus. Sometimes you get help like that - people bring ideas - but as far as verses go, I write 99% of my verses always. Once in a while somebody will be like "oh you should add this to that line" and it will be a good suggestion, but I'm somebody that takes pride in writing all my shit.

CDM: Is there anyone that you haven't worked with yet, that you would really love to record a song with?
BIG SEAN: Definitely, Eminem. One day, I feel like that's going to happen. You know, anybody who's just good. I don't judge too much as long as it's good. As long as it's good music and good artistry, I'm with it.

CDM: Congrats on your engagement to Naya Rivera! It must have been fun for you two to work together on her debut single, 'Sorry'?
BIG SEAN: Yeah, definitely. She's awesome, man. Naya's great, she's a star, everybody knows that - I don't have to sit up and tell you that. She's a great actress, great singer - a super good singer, super good actress - she's fine as hell, you know how it goes.

CDM: Are you going to be doing more music together?
BIG SEAN: I'm pretty sure. She has a lot to say and a long way to go. She has a bright future ahead of her.

CDM: You've already designed your own line of sneakers for Adidas. Could you see yourself releasing a clothing line one day?
BIG SEAN: I actually started a clothing line called 'Aura Gold' - we just started it and we're getting it together. I've got good fashion sense, I know how to dress good, I've got good style, and I feel like coming from Detroit I made a line that's just a reflection of that. I was making my own clothes a lot anyway, so I would be having to make jackets and stuff because there wasn't enough clothes in stores and I was spending too much money on it. I was spending thousands and thousands and thousands on clothes and was only wearing them a couple of times. I got with my stylist and we made a whole bunch of pieces ourselves and then we just got approached because we were getting so many compliments, to make a line. We're making it so it's a lot of good quality pieces for very reasonable prices; cheap but still high quality.

CDM: If B.I.G. S.E.A.N. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
BIG SEAN: It would stand for... Big Intelligent G who's Sexy Entertaining And Nasty.

CDM: A friendship-crush is someone that you have no romantic interest in whatsoever, but just really wish that you were best friends with them. Who would be your top five friendship-crushes, living or dead?
BIG SEAN: I wish I was best friends with John F. Kennedy, he seemed like a G, he seemed like he liked black people. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Peter Griffin and Goku from 'Dragon Ball Z'.

CDM: What do you want your legacy to be / remembered for?
BIG SEAN: I just want my legacy to be... someone who had fun with it and who had a message to it. That's why I wanted to do something different from 'Dance (A$$)' and all these different party songs that I'm known for. I just wanted to do something that had some meaning that I can look back and be proud of, that my family can look back and be proud of, but that is still me though. I'm not compromising myself in any way, I love just doing whatever I want and showing people it's real. I feel like coming from Detroit, we always knew success was possible but it wasn't real until somebody did it. Eminem was the biggest rapper in the world, but I didn't know Eminem and I didn't know anybody who knew Eminem. It was just cool to see my friends so inspired, and I'm by no means the biggest rapper in the world, but I'm on my way up. I feel like I'm going to keep going and delivering good music every time. It was cool to show people that it's real to do what you want to do.

CDM: What's left on your bucket-list that you'd really like to achieve?
BIG SEAN: I want to win some awards, sell more records - just do whatever I want. That's what it's about. I feel like that's why we're here on this earth; to manifest what we want, to live a life, to have the best sex, drink the best champagne and to live it up and control it. That's what it's all about. That's what I want to do. The best advice I have been given is to live in the moment, as cliché as that sounds. It's crazy. Even when I was kicking it with Naya the other day and we were having a good time and she was like "ahhh tomorrow I gotta do this", and I was like damn I do the same thing. I'll be like: "Damn man, next week or tomorrow I've gotta leave for this or do that..." But I've been learning that lately, to live in the moment is truly an art and is truly a talent, because when you live in the moment then you are truly the master of your whole life and you'll have the best times. Instead of thinking about work the next day or thinking about what you have to do, or thinking about that <gestures>, if you live in the moment you'll have some of the best times of your life.

Big Sean's latest album 'Hall Of Fame' is out now - featuring the singles, 'Beware', 'Fire' and 'Ashley'.

Watch the 'Fire' music video [featuring Miley Cyrus] below...

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