With the announcement that “I’m in album mode” on his “Overtime” single, Big Sean season has returned. The Detroit rapper broke his year-long hiatus with the cathartic track from his upcoming Don Life album, where he delves into his previous disillusionment with music and life through summative lines like, “I didn’t take a break, my n—a, I broke.” Sean sounds put back together on the 4-minute song, where he rhymes vigorously over instrumentation which includes a triumphant loop from Jay-Z’s “Hovi Baby.” He rhymes, “f*ck that sh*t that you believe in, I believe in me.” What may sound like an inconsequential boast is actually an affirmation of triumph for Sean, who admitted to Billboard magazine in March 2018 that he was dealing with depression and anxiety.
After a (refreshingly civil) breakup with Jhene Aiko and a mixed response to his Double Or Nothing joint album with Metro Boomin, Sean canceled his 2018 tour plans last February and went dark. He told Billboard that, “I had some things to work out in my head…I never really took the time out to nurture myself, to take care of myself. It took me a lot of depression (and) having a lot of anxiety to realize something was off.” But now, Sean says he’s his “best self,” and his self-improvement is reflected in new music that he claims is “the best it’s ever sounded.”
The “best music yet” claim is a quintessential rapper cliche, but there’s reason to believe Sean. At the time he spoke to Billboard, he wasn’t just working on his bars, he was working on himself. He announced in February 2018 that he was “in a deep creative space” and needed “to stay focused in the studio.” A year later, on his 31st birthday, he took to Instagram to let fans know that during that period, he felt “lost” while dealing with depression and anxiety. The Detroit rhymer found a therapist who he said “made me realize one thing I was missing in my life, and the one thing I was missing was clarity.” It’s commendable that he made the journey to become his “best self” mentally, and that work may influence him to tap into his full creative potential with an undeniable album.