Big Sean says a lot of his life, including a failed romance with 'Glee's' Naya Rivera, will be included on his next album. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images)
Big Sean is on the phone from his home in Los Angeles, where he has “incredible” views of the hills and mountains surrounding the city, as well as a brand new recording studio where he’s working on his new album, the follow-up to last year’s “Hall of Fame.”
The studio, which was built this year, was “one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my life,” says the Detroit rapper. “It’s the best thing. I’ve been making the best music ever, and taking my craft way more serious.”
The new album, Sean’s third studio set, is taking on a more “intense” tone, he says.
“I feel like my last album wasn’t really that direction. It was way more positive,” says Sean, born Sean Anderson. “But this one is more hardcore. My fans will like this one a little more, because it’s more snappin’ and great raps. You’ll see.”
“Hall of Fame” found Sean talking about his rise, his hunger for success and personal topics, as detailed on songs like “Ashley,” which chronicled his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. But his verse on Drake’s “All Me,” which found him in pure brag mode, was more talked about and better received than anything on his album.
“It showed me a lot. I was just like, ‘That’s what you guys really wanna hear?’ ” says Sean, 26. “I was on ‘Hall of Fame’ talking about my old girlfriend’s mom having cancer and going through situations like that. But then I did the ‘All Me’ verse in a couple hours one day, it was super easy for me to do, and it’s crazy that this is what people want. It’s all good, though. As an artist you have to experiment and try things for yourself.”
Sean’s mentor, Kanye West, who was in Paris working on his own “Yeezus” album during the recording of “Hall of Fame,” will have more of a hand in the upcoming album, Sean says. The album, which he says is about 80 percent finished, will also touch on his whirlwind romance with “Glee” star Naya Rivera; the two were engaged in October after six months of dating, but the wedding was called off in April.
“I’m a musician, so everything I go through I write or rap about,” he says. “I don’t really like talking about the details of it, but you’ll hear some details in the music.” He stops short of speaking any further about his ex-, saying only, “I have nothing but respect for her.”
Sean — whose unbilled whisper provides the chorus on Ariana Grande’s budding summer smash “Problem” — doesn’t have a time table for the new album yet. But he says he plans to toast its release with a local concert, like his blockbuster show at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2012 or his DTE Energy Music Theatre follow-up in 2013.
In the meantime, he’s a part of Saturday’s Big Show at the Joe, the WJLB-FM (97.9) and WKQI-FM (95.5) sponsored show with a lineup that includes Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Trey Songz.
“It’s a great bill, so we’re just looking to have fun,” says the Cass Technical High School graduate. “We want to bring the whole city out to support, have a good day, celebrate it being hot and party with JLB.”
It’s been nine years since Sean first infamously rapped for Kanye West outside a Detroit radio station, and since then he’s enjoyed a career as one of hip-hop’s hottest young talents. He’s proud of his accomplishments so far, and is looking forward to continued success.
“It’s been a great journey for me. It’s been the most beautiful thing I could ever see,” he says. “I’ve been around the world, I’ve performed everywhere, I’ve changed people’s lives — I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I still have a lot more to go and a lot to do; I’m never satisfied a bit. Everything is going well, and there’s no sign of slowing down. It’s only going to pick up, and I’m excited.”
Big Show at the Joe
with Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, J. Cole, Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, August Alsina and Icewear Vezzo
7:30 p.m. Saturday
Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center, Detroit
Ticketmaster.com or (313) 983-6606