PHOTOS AND STORY BY DAN GARCIA
Yesterday Detroit’s own Big Sean traveled to his sister city of Chicago to speak to aspiring artists at the Chicago Cultural Center, in an event held by Donda’s House (Kanye West’s nonprofit, named in honor of his late mother, Dr. Donda West). The “Behind The Mic” event consisted of a number of local performances, followed by a Q&A session where fans and the program’s hosts (including the Grammy Award winning Rhymefest) asked Big Sean a number of questions. Throughout the night, Sean gave advice to the young crowd, talked about his upcoming album and payed tribute to his late grandmother. After the event we met with Big Sean to discuss a number of topics, including the sound of his new album, Cruel Winter, a new “G.O.O.D. Fridays” and Kanye’s latest addition to the G.O.O.D. Music team, singer Kacy Hill.
To kick off the questions, rapper Rhymfest (co-writer of ‘Jesus Walks’) asked Big Sean to compare and contrast successes of artists signed to big labels to new waves of artists, specifically Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, who have gone the independent route. “It just depends what you’re looking for out of the situation,” Sean told the crowd. “They both got their strong suits. I’ve been both but I was not an independent artist on the level that Chance is.” Ultimately though Sean explained that he prefers the route he took, due in part to his childhood dreams, explaining “I was a little kid and I wanted to be signed to Def Jam records.” One artist that also prefers the major label route? Big Sean’s new label-mate Kacy Hill, the newest singer added to the Def Jam and G.O.O.D. Music team. We asked Sean about the new addition, as he told us that he is excited to work with Kacy in the future.
Sean also spoke to us about his new album, which he has kept its details relatively quite. “You’ll love it man, its raw” Sean told me, as he confirmed that it will be his darkest project yet. “I’ve been going through a lot, growing up more, becoming more of a man, and there’s still a lot of things I got to learn but I really put a lot of thought into this new project that I’m doing. I was hungry as ever working (on the album).” Although there is no public release date as of yet, the album is not quite finished as he is currently working on the final mixing for the forthcoming project.
What motivates Sean to work hard, and to give back as he did last night? His mother Myra Anderson (who was in attendance) and his late grandmother Mildred Leonard, who yesterday would have turned 94 years old. Speaking about his mother, Sean told fans about his mom’s support of his career, “My mom was in debt, and went more in debt over me, over my dreams.” When stopping to pay tribute to his grandmother who recently passed, Big Sean talked about how she came up from poverty and had an unique and inspiring love for education, “That’s the same blood that runs in me, that runs in my mom, that runs in all of us, we all have great ancestors like that and we got to keep continuing to be great.” His mother and grandmother together inspired Big Sean to start his Sean Anderson Foundation, which works to help Detroit kids and families in need.
Finally we had to ask Big Sean about a couple of G.O.O.D. Music projects that have been rumored throughout the past couple years, another “G.O.O.D. Fridays” series and Cruel Winter (a follow-up to the label’s Cruel Summer album). Unfortunately however, Sean couldn’t tell us much. “I can say as a unit G.O.O.D. Music is doing well. I don’t want to spill any plans.” Fans can definitely stay optimistic that we will hopefully see the execution of either of these projects, but don’t expect Sean to be the one to spill the details. A ‘Big’ thanks to Sean for meeting with us and to Donda’s House for putting on another great event and be sure to stay updated on Donda’s House and the Sean Anderson Foundation at their websites, DondasHouseInc.org and SeanAndersonFoundation.org.
Check out some of our shots of Big Sean below and be sure to check out our photo gallery for the “Behind The Mic” event here.