Born in California but raised in Detroit, rapper Big Sean made big news in 2007 when he signed with Kanye West's then-recently formed label GOOD Music. Sean had met West through a hip-hop radio station in Detroit. He was just trying to impress the superstar by displaying his freestyle skills, but after Sean's in-studio performance, West offered him a recording contract and helped set up his debut mixtape, Finally Famous, Vol. 1, released in 2007. A second volume arrived in 2009, with a third following in 2010.
In 2011, Sean issued his official debut, Finally Famous, featuring the single "My Last" with special guest Chris Brown. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, and later that year the single "Dance (A$$)," featuring Nicki Minaj, became his first in the pop Top Ten. Hall of Fame followed in 2013, also on GOOD Music, with Lil Wayne, Minaj, Nas, and Miguel on the guest list; it too reached number three on the pop chart. Dark Sky Paradise, released in early 2015, featured a similarly impressive guest list, including repeats in Kanye West, John Legend, and Lil Wayne, plus Drake, Ariana Grande, and E-40. It also featured the number 11 pop hit "I Don't Fuck with You" (aka "I Don't Mess with You"), debuted at number one, and went platinum. After he was featured on a handful of tracks, including fellow Detroiter DeJ Loaf's platinum "Back Up," the Cruel Winter highlight "Champions," and DJ Khaled's "Holy Key," he inched closer to the release of his fourth album. His own "Bounce Back" reached the Billboard rap Top Ten in 2016. ~ David Jeffries