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Concert Reviews:
Big Sean delivers an epic homecoming at The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
For Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK



AUBURN HILLS -- The title of Big Sean's 2011 debut album, "Finally Famous," seemed a bit premature.

But on Saturday night, Dec. 1, at The Palace, it was right on target

Though the Detroit rapper didn't quite sell out the arena as he proclaimed from the stage, a healthy and exuberant (and extremely youthful) crowd of 9,000 witnessed the 24-year-old MC's undeniable arrival as a big-stage star with an energetic and star-studded -- Kanye West, Common, Mike Posner, Pusha T, J. Cole and more -- hour-and-50-minute celebration. There was plenty of firepower on stage, and even some actual fire during a couple of songs, but none of that would have meant much if Big Sean himself didn't bring a powerhouse performance of sharply delivered rhymes and a genuinely confident and commanding physical presence.

The sense of moment did get to him at one point, however, as the MC broke into tears during "Memories," sitting down at one point to compose himself. "I'm not faking it," he told the crowd. "I love you guys so...much, man. This (stuff) will be all over the Internet. I don't care. I got emotions." The Palace crowd -- which included Denaun Porter and Bizarre of D12 and Royce Da 5'9" -- only offered more love in response, chanting "Big Sean!" while he got back into gear.

Backstage afterwards, Big Sean -- who had pointed out his parents and brother from the stage -- acknowledged the "emotional rollercoaster" he experienced. "I felt a little nervous, then I was happy, then super-happy, then I felt these tears coming and I was like, 'Oh, hell no, man. Don't do it man!' But I couldn't help it. It was just a human emotion."

A Detroit flavor dominated the night, of course, from the opening acts -- locals Paradime and Danny Brown and Flint's John Connor -- to the announcement of the Sean Michael Anderson Foundation, which will focus on education and school-based initiatives when it ramps up in a couple of months. The opening video depicted Big Sean and his crew hitting a couple local landmarks in preparation for the big show, even disarming a party store robbery when the gunman recognized the rapper.

He and his four-piece group then hit the tri-level stage with "Guap," the bouncy first single from his upcoming sophomore album "Hall of Fame" -- due out in early 2013 -- and promising that "Tonight we're going hard!" Big Sean did just that throughout a show that focused on material from "Finally Famous" and his latest mixtape, "Detroit," but even his earlier material such as "Too Fake" and "Supa Dupa Lemonade" was abundantly familiar to this hometown crowd.

Big Sean also went deep with the night's first guest, good pal (and Birmingham Groves grad) Mike Posner, as the two joined forces for the early mixtape favorite "Smoke & Drive" and were then joined by Sayitainttone and Earlly Mac for the "Detroit" track "Woke Up." J. Cole recreated his guest appearance on "24 Karats of Gold," then gave Big Sean a potty break while he did his own hit "Can't Get Enough." Following animated performances of "Mula" and "Marvin & Chardonnay," a by then shirtless Sean was joined by Pusha T for "Don't Like" and then "Mercy" from the G.O.O.D. Music compilation "Cruel Summer."

Common made a brief appearance for a bit of his hit "The Light," while Nicki Minaj made her "Dance (A$$)" cameo via video.

All of this, of course, had The Palace fans in an advanced state of ecstasy, but the roof just about blew off the arena when West -- whose late arrival delayed Saturday's show by about 40 minutes -- came out for the "Cruel Summer" hit "Clique," also joined by Common, Pusha T and Teyana Taylor. The quintet ended the show by rolling through a reprise of "Mercy" and many salutations to Big Sean, who said he was "proud of my city." But it was North Carolinian J. Cole who put the night in the best perspective.

"I hope everyone in this (place) realizes how important this moment is for Detroit, man," he noted. "There's no other rapper in Detroit who can do this other than Eminem."

In other words, Big Sean IS famous -- finally.



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