Big Sean's road to his first headlining show at The Palace of Auburn Hills began on May 22, 2008, when the Detroit rapper and his DJ Mo Beatz attended Kanye West's Glow In The Dark Tour stop there.
"I've envisioned me playing there ever since then," Big Sean, who plays The Palace on Saturday, says by telephone from England, where he was touring earlier this week with West's G.O.O.D. Music label crew. "It's something I didn't know would come this soon, but it feels right and you just gotta accept it.
"It's crazy, because we went to see Glow In The Dark and we went to see Watch The Throne (West's tour with Jay-Z in 2011) with a whole bunch of people -- all my family, all my friends -- and now we're the ones who are going to be headlining (at The Palace). So it's just crazy, man. I really am excited and nervous a little bit, but it's definitely fun."
The Palace date catches the 24-year-old MC -- raised Sean Anderson in Detroit and a graduate of Cass Technical High School -- in the midst of a career ascent as one of rap's hottest young rising stars. Signed to West's G.O.O.D. Music label after freestyling for the rap star at the former WHTD-FM, Big Sean's 2011 debut album, "Final Famous," debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the R&B Albums chart and No. 1 on the Rap Albums survey, launching the hits "My Last," "Marvin & Chardonnay," "Dance (A$$)" and "Clique." His "Detroit" mixtape, released online for free in September, has been downloaded more than a million times, and he had a lead role in "Mercy" and "Clique," a pair of singles from G.O.O.D. Music's "Cruel Summer" album.
Big Sean is featured on Justin Bieber's recent Top 10 pop hit "As Long as You Love Me," and he's currently heading up the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "Guap," the first single from his sophomore album, "Hall of Fame," which he plans to drop in early 2013.
"Y'know, I just think I'm a kid from Detroit that some people like, some people know, some people don't know," Big Sean notes. "I always try to have my own style and have great music that people can life to or party to or cry to or do whatever they do to it.
"I just think we keep going and going and progressing -- that's the type of career I always wanted to have. I didn't want to immediately just come out and be the biggest artist in the world. I wanted to earn being the biggest artist in the world, and I wanted to work towards it."
That said, Big Sean acknowledges that being in the midst of the G.O.O.D. posse has certainly given him a leg up towards his goals. "Just being part of a family, part of a crew -- G.O.O.D. Music is the No. 1 rap crew in the game right now, and nobody can compare it," he says. "Just look at the numbers, really." But he'll also be looking to further establish his name with "Hall of Fame."
The new album, Big Sean says, is "pretty far along." He's recording most in Los Angeles with producers such as KeY [cq] Wayne, No I.D. and others while making videos -- including a clip for "Guap" that will be released soon -- in Detroit. Nas guests on a track that was previously known as "Jesus Pieces," and other guests -- possibly even Eminem -- are likely.
"('Hall of Fame') was supposed to come in December, but I decided to push it back because I really wanted to take my time with it," Big Sean explains. "It was sounding good, and I wanted to give it the proper roll-out, the proper videos, the proper set-up. I feel like I needed a little more time to do it how I wanted."
He describes the album's sound as "very classic. I don't use a lot of weird, weird instruments. There's definitely a lot of just great, classic musical sounds like pianos and strings, elements like that. There are some songs on there that are very serious, some that are more lighthearted, some are party songs, some are very deep." Big Sean has dropped the album's planned subtitle -- "Memoirs of a Detroit Player" -- but he says it will still have the personal tone it conveys.
"It tells my stories," he says. "You're gonna get what I've learned, things that I've done, situations I've gone through and all of that. I think it's going to definitely define me as an artist." He adds that "nothing else on the album sounds like" "Guap," a "feel-good song" he calls "a testament to anybody who just clocks in and works that time, those hours, and you get your paycheck. ('Guap') needs to be the anthem for that moment."
Big Sean is looking forward to playing it at The Palace, of course, where he promises his most extensive stage production yet -- and, of course, some special guests, though he's not saying who that will be yet.
"I've got a couple of friends but nothing too crazy," Big Sean says. "I don't want to take the focus away from the moment. I don't want to make it like, 'Oh, I'm bringing out this guest, this guest, this dude, that dude...' I didn't want to turn it into that type of thing.
"I want it to be about me and Detroit. I want it to be us sharing this moment together. But I definitely have a couple surprises for the city and, y'know, they'll be good surprises."
Big Sean, Danny Brown, Jon Connor and Paradime perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $39.50-, $34.50 and $24.50. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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