Is anyone else slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new hip-hop music in 2018? Even if it’s just from mainstream, topline artists like Drake, Travis Scott, Migos, and Kanye West, it feels like everyone who ever even contemplated rhyming words on a beat put out at least an EP’s worth of material this year, resulting in a veritable deluge of new songs, wild variety, and an embarrassment of riches for hip-hop fans.
Except that there’s one name that, upon reflection, has been conspicuously missing from the “New Releases” pages of your favorite streaming services for nearly 50 Fridays this year. In fact, he hasn’t made too many headlines, or appeared on any festival schedules. Truth be told, the last time he did either, it was for a tour that he canceled midway through the year that would have showcased the talents of his fellow Detroiters like Tee Grizzley and Kash Doll while reminding concertgoers that despite social media’s tendency to mock, he has long been one of the premiere artists within the upper echelon of hip-hop talents. Amid the torrential downpour of new music from every quarter and subgenre of rap, I just couldn’t seem to shake the question: Where on earth is Big Sean?
I can’t have been the only one wondering, and it’s not like there weren’t plenty of reasons to. One of the biggest was Kanye West and his major announcement that he’d be producing a collection of albums — whether they were full-lengths or EPs is up to interpretation — with a significant portion of his GOOD Music roster, including Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, and Kid Cudi, the latter of whom isn’t even officially on the label anymore and hasn’t been since 2013. Included in the release circuit was Nas, whose lackluster effort with Kanye was jointly released by GOOD and Nas’ own Mass Appeal imprint, and Chance The Rapper, who hasn’t been on a label, well, ever. Even Cyhi The Prynce received a glimmer of reflected spotlight from Kanye’s controversial Twitter antics, all while Sean remained mysteriously silent on the subject of Kanye’s political tap-dancing as well as the so-called Wyoming Projects.
While a who’s who of celebrities from musical collaborators of West’s to filmmakers, actors, and fashion icons made sure to post images of themselves at Kanye’s album release party to social media, Sean has, instead, posted photos of himself practicing the piano — although comedian Chris Rock assured the crowd the Detroit rapper with the distinctively elastic flow was in attendance. In fact, Sean’s social media remains as opaque about his doings in the past few months as everyone not named Donald Trump wishes that Kanye’s had been over the same span. His Instagram has a few scattered images from his 30th birthday celebration, some videos of his philosophical final thoughts of age 29, a handful of studio shots featuring Asahd Khaled, and the latest, a photo of himself munching on a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on a private jet.
His Twitter is about as forthcoming, showing off some of his philanthropic endeavors like the DON Weekend in Detroit, with museum benefits and block party. He hasn’t been on tour and claims that he canceled the tour in order to focus on the studio, which lines up his sparse Instagram activity, but not his output; so far, he’s been featured on a bare handful of songs throughout the year: Mike Will Made-It’s “Aries (Yugo) Part 2,” Fat Joe’s Mothers’ Day anthem “Momma,” and YG’s Stay Dangerous single “Big Bank” with Nicki Minaj. Sean’s barely even promoted his late 2017 collaborative album with Metro Boomin, Double Or Nothin’, except to release two singles during the release month, “Pull Up N Wreck” featuring 21 Savage and “So Good” featuring Kash Doll.