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Last night, despite the frigid weather conditions in New York City, industry tastemakers, bloggers, label reps, and members of various media outlets gathered in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, for Big Sean’s exclusive listening party. As you all know, Sean’s highly anticipated album, “I Decided” drops this Friday, February 3rd, 2017. Now, before I recap my eventful evening, I’d like to share my thoughts on Big Sean as an artist. If you ask Hip Hop fans, their opinions on the Detroit rapper vary. Phrases like “he’s overrated,” “one of the best right now,” and “inconsistent but dope,” are thrown around. For years now, Sean has, to some extent, lived in the shadows of his fellows rappers like Drake, and J. Cole – despite being Kanye West’s protege. His fans, however, are extreme loyalists.

There’s no denying that Sean has his share of hit singles, platinum plaques and record sales. Most notably, his first project release, “Dark Sky Paradise,” did NUMBERS. And was dubbed as one of the best projects to drop in 2015. Sean Don put his clever punchlines, wordplay and versatile delivery on display – on the mainstream level – and succeeded. And he’s looking for that success to carry over into this new year with the release of “I Decided.”

Hey, optimism wins.

That was the same outlook I had going into the listening party – even after only hearing a few records off the tracklist prior to the evening. I was rooting for him. And I had high expectations for the album – especially after hearing about an Eminem collaboration being on the project (if you know me, you know I’m the biggest Em fan!)

As I waited to enter the venue last night with a long line of people, I shared the story of when I first saw Big Sean perform back in 2010; as a part of the XXL’s “Freshman Class” concert. After he performed his “Supa Dupa Lemonade” Freestyle, I can recall going home that night and Googling the lyrics until I found the song. It was that damn catchy. “I’ll give this dude a chance,” I said to myself.

From there, I kept an eye (and ear) on his career. Following him through projects like “Finally Famous,” to “Detroit,” and “Hall of Fame” to “Dark Sky Paradise,” even his “TWENTY88” collaboration with Jhene Aiko. I kept my tabs on Sean. And after listening to “I Decided” last night, as presented by Def Jam and Big Sean himself, I’m glad I did. While some of the projects I listed didn’t impress me as much as I would’ve liked them to – despite having some standout singles – I still reserved some space on my iPod, in hopes he’d give us something like “I Decided.” As Sean presented his latest body of work to a (massive) room full of music critics and fans, alike, he rapped along to every song on the 14-track LP as it boomed through the speakers.

Song, after song, there wasn’t one that I didn’t find myself throwing my hands up in the air, as I bobbed my head in unison with the sea of people in the venue. Standout features from Eminem – where he totally snaps (as he should) on “No Favors,” Jhene Aiko, Jeremih, The-Dream, and even a choir from Flint, Michigan, infiltrate the project, coercing you to hit that “Pre-Order” button from your iPhone.

Those free Dusse drinks might’ve had something to do with it as well. Either way, Big Sean’s “I Decided” is a must-cop. Don’t miss out on what could be the year’s hottest album.

@bigsean speaking on his new album #idecided at his listening event w/ @defjamrecords – cc: @hiphopsince1987

A video posted by #MariaMyraine (@yo.itsmymy) on

Tonight I bounce back. @bigsean x @defjamrecords listening event. Cc: @hiphopsince1987

A video posted by #MariaMyraine (@yo.itsmymy) on

#Currently @defjamrecords x @bigsean album listening party #idecided

A video posted by #MariaMyraine (@yo.itsmymy) on

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