Sean Michael Leonard Anderson (born March 25, 1988), known professionally as Big Sean, is an American rapper. Anderson began his music career in 2007 and gained popularity in 2010 with his third mixtape Finally Famous Vol. 3: Big. He then signed a recording contract with GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings and released his debut studio album, Finally Famous in 2011, which included the US top 10 single "Dance (Ass)" (featuring Nicki Minaj). Anderson followed it with his second album, Hall of Fame, while his third album, Dark Sky Paradise, debuted atop the US Billboard 200. It also included the hit singles "I Don't Fuck with You" (featuring E-40) and "Blessings" (featuring Drake). His fourth album, I Decided, contained "Bounce Back", his highest-charting US single, while his fifth album Detroit 2 was his third consecutive platinum album.
He was raised by his mother and grandparents who worked steadfastly to instill in him the principles of hard work and determination. Sean attended the Detroit Waldorf School, a school of art, from Kindergarten to 8th Grade where he was in 102.7FM, a local radio station in Detroit where he displayed his rhyming skills weekly. There, he met Kanye West after a radio interview in 2005 and got a chance to display his talent by freestyling for Mr. West, giving him a copy of his music and sending numerous tracks for him to critique. After months of submitting songs and numerous meetings, Sean finally got a call from Kanye West himself saying that he wanted to sign him. Two years later, West signed Big Sean to GOOD Music. Sean has cited West, Eminem, The Notorious B.I.G., and J Dilla as his influences.
On September 30, 2007, Big Sean released his first official mixtape Finally Famous: The Mixtape. His hit single, "Get'cha Some", produced by WrighTrax, attained media attention and led to articles in The Source and the Detroit Metro Times. He also recorded a music video for "Get'cha Some", which was directed by Hype Williams. Sean released a second mixtape hosted by Mick Boogie on April 16, 2009, called UKNOWBIGSEAN. It featured the songs "Million Dollars", "Get'cha Some" and "Supa Dupa". This mixtape includes 30 tracks. Sean released a third mixtape hosted by Don Cannon on August 31, 2010, called Finally Famous Vol. 3: BIG, which features include major artists like Bun B, Chip tha Ripper, Curren$y, Tyga, Drake, Mike Posner, Chuck Inglish, Asher Roth, Dom Kennedy, and Chiddy Bang. The mixtape includes 20 tracks.
Finally Famous, Sean's debut studio album, was released June 28, 2011, and spawned three hit singles; "My Last", "Marvin & Chardonnay" and "Dance (Ass)". The album featured guest appearances from Lupe Fiasco, John Legend, Pharrell, Kanye West, Roscoe Dash, Wiz Khalifa, Chiddy Bang, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Pusha T, and included production from No I.D., The Legendary Traxster, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Xaphoon Jones and The Neptunes. When the songs "O.T.T.R." and "Flowers" were leaked in July 2011, speculation began of a new mixtape. Sean confirmed in an interview on June 28, 2011, that a collaborative mixtape between him and "two other guys in hip-hop that are just killing it right now" will be released "in a couple of weeks". Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y were the suspected featured rappers on the mixtape. However, Wiz Khalifa later confirmed that there would be no mixtape, claiming that the songs were created, "just for fun".
In September 2011, Big Sean confirmed in an interview with the Daily Tribune that he'll be working on his second album during the I Am Finally Famous Tour and plans to release the album sometime in 2012. On October 19, 2011, Kanye West announced on his Twitter plans for a Spring 2012 GOOD Music album release. On April 6, 2012, "Mercy", the lead single from the GOOD Music compilation album, Cruel Summer, was released. The song, produced by newly signed in-house producer Lifted, features Big Sean along with Kanye West, Pusha T, and southern rapper 2 Chainz. Big Sean then announced his fourth mixtape would be titled "Detroit" and would serve as a lead-in to his second studio album. He then began promoting the mixtape, releasing short versions of the songs on his YouTube page. On September 5, 2012, Big Sean released the mixtape Detroit which features guest appearances from fellow rappers J. Cole, Juicy J, King Chip, French Montana, Royce da 5'9", Kendrick Lamar, and Tyga.
Big Sean pushed back the release date of his second studio album Hall of Fame which was eventually released on August 27, 2013. The album has skits to give it a "classic feel", and includes features from multiple artists, including Lil Wayne, Miguel, and Nas. The album's production was primarily handled by No I.D., and Key Wane along with additional production from Hit-Boy, Da Internz, Mike Dean, Travis Scott, Xaphoon Jones, and Young Chop among others. Big Sean also stated in an interview that he was in the studio with fellow Detroit native Eminem. Sean went on to say they made a "Detroit classic" but he is unsure if it will be on Hall of Fame because of "timing issues". Hall of Fame spawned five singles, "Guap", "Switch Up" featuring Common, "Beware" featuring Jhené Aiko and Lil Wayne, "Fire", and "Ashley" featuring Miguel.
A month prior to the release of Hall of Fame, Big Sean told Complex that he had already begun work on his third album due to the inspiration from his new relationship. On September 12, 2014, Big Sean announced that he had signed a management deal with Roc Nation. Later that same day he released four new songs titled, "I Don't Fuck with You", "Paradise", "4th Quarter" and "Jit/Juke". Producers for these songs include, Mike Will Made It, DJ Mustard, Kanye West, DJ Dahi, Nate Fox, Da Internz, L&F, and Key Wane. "I Don't Fuck with You" was released to iTunes on September 19, 2014. In an interview with Sway Calloway, Sean confirmed that Lil Wayne will be featured on the album.
In May 2012, Big Sean founded a nonprofit organization called the “Sean Anderson Foundation,” with the aim of helping underserved children and families in Detroit. Alongside direct donations to local institutions, primarily educational institutions, the foundation has created fundraising programs and partnered with other organizations. In 2016, the foundation launched #HealFlintKids to raise money for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint amid the Flint water crisis - the program raised $100,000.
In 2015, the foundation launched Mogul Prep, which partnered high school students with music industry professionals. During the same year, the foundation donated a recording studio for students at Big Sean's alma mater, Cass Technical High School. Beginning in 2018, the foundation has hosted an annual weekend festival, called D.O.N. Weekend, with free events and performances for Detroit residents and usually by Detroit artists. In December 2018, Big Sean in partnership with Ally Financial, Thurgood Marshall College Fund & the Sean Anderson Foundation, created an annual scholarship competition for HBCU students called “Moguls in the Making.”
On March 25, 2016, Big Sean released a track to celebrate his 28th birthday, "Get My Shit Together". Two days later he announced a self-titled album with Jhené Aiko, Twenty88, scheduled to be released on April 1, 2016, exclusively on Tidal. The album was released on April 5, 2016, on Apple Music and Spotify. A week after the exclusive release of Twenty88 on Tidal, Big Sean and Aiko released a 15-minute short film called Out of Love, which is composed of several recordings from the album. Around the same month, upon the wake of the Flint water crisis, Big Sean tweeted to the city's official Twitter account, asking if he could do anything to help, and later on donated $10,000.
On October 31, 2016, Big Sean released "Bounce Back" as the lead single from his fourth studio album, I Decided, which was released on February 3, 2017. "Moves" was released as an instant-great on December 16, 2016. Sean consulted the advice of Jay Z and Rick Rubin while working on the album. Big Sean achieved his second number-one album on the Billboard 200 chart, as I Decided debuted at the top. It earned 151,000 equivalent album units in the week of February 9, according to Nielsen Music. 65,000 of the amount was in pure album sales. As of April 18, 2017, I Decided was certified gold.
Two months after the release of I Decided, Big Sean was offered the official Key to the City of Detroit for his contribution to his own Sean Anderson foundation.
On November 3, 2017, Sean and Metro Boomin released the single "Pull Up N Wreck", featuring 21 Savage. A month later, it was announced that Sean and Metro were to release a collaborative album titled Double or Nothing. The album was released on December 8, 2017, and included features from Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Kash Doll, Young Thug, and Swae Lee, and included the single "Pull Up N Wreck".
On July 24, 2019, Big Sean released his first solo single since 2017 titled "Overtime", produced by Hit-Boy, Key Wane, and the Tucker Brothers. In an interview with Beats 1 Radio, Sean said he was "returning to his roots" with the single ahead of his forthcoming album. On July 26, he released the song "Single Again", which includes background vocals from Jhené Aiko and Ty Dolla Sign. On August 26, he released the single "Bezerk" featuring ASAP Ferg, performing it at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.
On March 25 (Big Sean's 32nd birthday), he announced that his new record would be titled Detroit 2. On August 25, he released the album's lead single, "Deep Reverence", featuring late rapper Nipsey Hussle. Detroit 2 was released on September 4, 2020, and features collaborations with Eminem, Jhené Aiko, and Lil Wayne. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, marking his third number-one album.
On September 17, 2020, Big Sean revealed in a Reddit AMA that another Twenty88 album is "in the works". A track attributed to the project appeared on Detroit 2. He has also announced that he plans on launching his own record label. On October 29, 2021, Big Sean announced on Twitter that after 14 years, he has stepped away from Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, saying "That's a forever brotherhood, but business-wise, I had to start getting a bigger cut! I worked my way out that deal." West also claimed during a November 2021 Drink Champs podcast that signing Sean was the 'worst decision' of his entire career.
Starting in 2020, Big Sean has appeared in the Showtime series 'Twenties' in a recurring role as Trsitan, an anti-social media character who learns the value of online connection. In October 2021, Big Sean, in collaboration with rapper and producer Hit-Boy released an EP entitled What You Expect.
In February 2022, Big Sean and singer Queen Naija released a single entitled "Hate Our Love". The song will appear on Naija's upcoming album. In that same month, Big Sean confirmed the Twenty88 album and revealed that the album would include a collaboration with his then-girlfriend, Jhené Aiko. In September 2022, Big Sean re-released Detroit to streaming platforms, in honor of its 10th anniversary.
In 2019, the foundation partnered with Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, donating a second $100,000 recording studio to the club during that year's D.O.N. Weekend. Since 2012, the foundation has participated in the annual All-Star Giveback on Thanksgiving, where it distributes turkeys, trimming, and canned goods to Detroit residents.
In May 2021, Big Sean, via his Sean Anderson Foundation, released a video series on wellness and mental health. The series was released during Mental Health Awareness Month and featured a conversation between Big Sean and his mother, educator Myra Anderson, about the intersection between wellness and mental health, including topics like meditation, sleep, and emotional freedom techniques.