#25. Rick Ross, Teflon Don (2010)
Big Sean: "I was always a Rick Ross fan, but that one made him one of my favorite rappers. I thought it should have gotten a Grammy nomination, but it didn’t. Rick Ross just beat so many odds with people calling him a cop and how 50 Cent tried to take him out. He stood the test of all that shit. Then on top of all that, he put out that motherfucking banger.
“Even though I’ve heard those types of beats [like ‘B.M.F.’], that was the first time I’d ever really heard it done like that because on the chorus he didn’t double up no track. He used the same track for his verses and choruses. I thought that was ill as hell and he just started this whole new thing. And he had real soulful shit like ‘Tears of Joy’ on there.”
#24. Hot Boys, Guerrilla Warfare (1999)
Big Sean: "I love the Hot Boys. I just thought they were one of the illest groups. I think it was one of those that I had to go back to, but only because I was so into 400 Degreez and that came out right after. That’s probably why I fucked with it because it came out after. I was a fan of Cash Money.”
#23. Ma$e, Harlem World (1997)
Big Sean: "I remember the album when it came out and it was definitely my instant favorite at the time. Ma$e was a slick ass player. I thought I was a player at that time. I was like nine, kissing girls, trying to rap. Back then kissing girls was like having sex. I was just being a Detroit player."
Like Water For Chocolate
#22. Common, Like Water For Chocolate (2000)
Big Sean: "That was another one that I went back and listened to. I definitely wasn’t into it when that came out. Dilla was on there and he just had that soul. Dilla was a Detroit native and they were definitely bringing that soul sound that everybody was addicted to at one point.”
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
#21. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Big Sean: "That was a very emotional album. I feel like coming off the Fugees shit, she really stood out in that group and her solo shit just banged. I was really blown away and she was really ripping on there. She could rap good as hell. I didn’t really realize how influential that record was until just recently. [The album was] just somebody spitting from their soul, similar to Kanye. I really felt her heart on some of those records.”
Songs About Jane
#20. Maroon 5, Songs About Jane (2002)
Big Sean: "I love that album man. The melodies were dope. Adam Levine just was really in love with that bitch man. I had a chance to meet him and be in the studio with him a couple of times, but I never asked him about it. But I know Jane gave him hell, for sure. I’ve always been the type that had a girlfriend. I’ve never really been single and I’ve been through that shit man. Sometimes that shit can get really fucking emotional. You can waste a lot of fucking time dealing with that shit."
#19. Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992)
Big Sean: "That’s another album I went back and listened to. There’s not really much to say. I remember listening to it when I got into smoking weed when I was in high school. Probably my senior in high school is when I really got into smoking weed. I listened to it a lot before then and enjoyed it, but when I started smoking weed is when I really got into it. That Chronic 2001 was real good too."
Can I Borrow A Dollar?
#18. Common Sense, Can I Borrow a Dollar? (1992)
Big Sean: "My man Boogie from Detroit put me on to that a couple of years ago. It was just dope to me, the soul it had. Especially to be so old man. Common always has a way of putting words together in a very true form, in a way that really hits your heart.
“It was crazy because Common was on my album. We were working on a song that he was supposed to be on, but he got wrapped up in something. I don’t know if he got to record in time to make the final cut. But Common is my homey for real. He told me that I inspire him. I was like, ‘Damn, that’s one of the biggest compliments ever.’
“The only thing about Can I Borrow a Dollar? is, I can’t remember any of the names for the tracks. I listened to it for like two weeks straight, but I never really looked at the track listing because I never bought it. The dude that gave it to me just gave me a burned copy of it. It’s crazy that it’s one of my favorite albums, but I’ve never bought it. No disrespect to Common, but I just got on to it a couple of years ago.”
#17. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle (1994)
Big Sean: "I thought Snoop was the coolest motherfucker, period. He made me want to smoke weed and I didn’t even know what weed was. I remember playing that at Thanksgiving one year and my Grandma gave me a whipping [because it had] too much cursing. I didn’t even know people could hear it like that, but that shit was so fucking cold to me. I was singing that shit all around the house as a little kid. I was like six or seven years old getting my ass whooped for singing, ‘It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.’”
#16. Juvenile, 400 Degreez (1998)
Big Sean: "That shit was banging! I liked the energy it had. It had the trillness of it just being real trill G shit, not trying to be anything that they’re not. They were just keeping it real and rapping about that Nolia shit. Mannie Fresh killed that shit. I was just a fan of how it sounded because it was so hard. I think they were popular everywhere [at that time]."
#15. Kanye West, Graduation (2007)
Big Sean: "That was the first time I saw an album get made and it was just amazing. Kanye took me under his wing while he was making that before he signed me. I saw how ‘Stronger’ and ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ came out. It was dope to see those get made and experience that. And it was one of the best albums to me period.
“When we were working on the album, Kanye taught me how to rap without writing words down. He taught me to see the potential in songs instead of just seeing them for what they are. He taught me how to work on songs to get them sounding good. He taught me how some of the songs you grow to love don’t start out like that, you have to make them into that. I learned a lot of things from Kanye [during that time]."
#14. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter (2004)
Big Sean: "I remember that album came out when I was a freshman in high school. That album was just banging. That was when Weezy was really getting recognized for spitting that shit. I loved every moment of it. I was always a big Lil Wayne fan, but that was the first time I was like, ‘Damn, he’s one of the best.’"
#13. Kanye West, Late Registration (2005)
Big Sean: "That’s right when I met Kanye and rapped for him. I associate that album with meeting him and all those good memories. There was a lot of dope shit on there. ‘Testify’ was dope as hell. ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone’ was too.
“My favorite song on there was ‘Roses.’ You just felt the emotion on it for the family. I definitely went through a similar situation when my granddad died and we were all there. Even though in the song whoever he was talking about didn’t die, it’s kind of like how your family is the most important thing. Your family are the best roses."
#12. Nas, Illmatic (1994)
Big Sean: "That shit was just banging from start to finish. Short and sweet. That was another one that I went back and listened to. Honestly, Nas is definitely one of the greatest, but that to me was his best work for sure. The storytelling on there was real vivid. Nas could explain shit really good.”
Life After Death
#11. The Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death (1997)
Big Sean: "That shit was fresh. I was a young ass kid, but I was following Biggie and respecting him. When Pac’ died I was really taken back. I was like, ‘Damn this East Coast/West Coast shit is for real.’ I thought that shit was really eerie that he named his album Life After Death. I think everybody had a bad feeling about that a little bit."
The Marshall Mathers LP
#10. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Big Sean: "Shit was banging for the same reasons I like the The Slim Shady LP. It’s a great follow-up album. Nothing really changed. Same good ass story telling, same good ass lyricism, same shit. [On that album] he was a little more in the public. You saw him going through the stress of being a star on the The Marshall Mathers LP because he was famous while he was making it.”
All Eyez On Me
#9. 2Pac, All Eyez On Me (1996)
Big Sean: "That’s another record I kind of went back to, but I was still aware of it when it came out. I really liked it, but understood it more when I went back. That shit was just banging man. Pac and Biggie were my favorites and it was crazy because they were such opposites. Pac and Big brought so much style to the game along with just good ass music. I was a big fan of Rolexs and all that fresh shit [Pac used to wear]. Pac was establishing his G, bringing a lot of style to the game, and a lot of passion. Pac and Biggie were both icons.”
Ready To Die
#8. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready To Die (1994)
Big Sean: "Around the time Life After Death came out is when I went back and listened to that album. I was a little bit older, but ever since then I always go back and listen to it at least a few times a year. I’m sure the last time was probably like six months ago or something. Big laid the blueprint for a lot of rap. When you do stuff like that, your music never gets old. ‘Juicy’ just made me want to get on my grind and have a better life. ‘Suicidal Thoughts’ was crazy as fuck. I love that. The album was banging from beginning to end."
No Way Out
#7. Puff Daddy & The Family, No Way Out (1997)
Big Sean: "I was a Biggie, Puffy, and Ma$e fan for sure. It was good as hell and I was young as hell listening to it like, ‘Damn this is fresh.’ I really wanted to get into rap after hearing that album. You know all the girls liked Puff Daddy and Ma$e. Everyone was jamming to that shit and I wanted to share that same feeling."
#6. Jay-Z, The Blueprint (2001)
Big Sean: “‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ inspired me to be a player. I was young as hell in middle school so I was kissing girls, playing girls, being a player. [I was] establishing my G at that time. Hell yeah, I was keeping it G.
“[But my favorite song was] probably ‘Song Cry.’ The sample and the realness of it was just dope to me. Like a dude being emotional, but he can’t cry, you know? He had some classic lines up in there. He was stating a lot of real lessons [on that song]. Real shit like when he’s like, ‘You don’t do shit like that/You don’t just pick up and leave and leave me sick like that/You don’t throw away what we had, just like that/ I was just fucking them girls, I was gonna get right back.’ That’s real shit man.”
The Slim Shady LP
#5. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Big Sean: " I just remember picking that up and being from Detroit, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe this fool is from Detroit.’ I wanted to rap just like him. His syllable game was just incredible and he’s responsible for a lot of the style I have now. His sense of lyricism is just on point."
Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
#4. Jay-Z, Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (1998)
Big Sean: “That’s when I really really got into Jay-Z. I remember my mom being in love with ‘Hard Knock Life’ and her always blasting it when it came on the radio. And my mom is a school teacher. She’s not really into rap like that. She is now though since I’m heavily into it. I wouldn’t say it was the first time she was into a rap record, but that was the first time I remember.”
The College Dropout
#3. Kanye West, The College Dropout (2004)
Big Sean: "I never experienced a feeling like that listening to a record. Especially the end of [‘Last Call’]. I think the outro made me tear up one time listening to it. He was just telling his story and I just related to that so much. It just gave me inspiration for me to do what I wanted to do. I was in my freshman year of high school and that was just the shit man. I remember them playing ‘Slow Jamz’ at all the homecomings. Just so many good memories to that album.”
“It’s funny, me and Kanye were sitting around going over our favorite albums when he was working on Graduation. This was right before I signed to him. They were all saying their favorite albums and I was like, ‘Man, that’s crazy because you made one of my favorite albums.’ Kanye was like, ‘Word? That’s dope.’ It was dope because he’s one of my favorite artists and I actually got the chance to sign to him.”
Off The Wall
#2. Micheal Jackson, Off The Wall (1979)
Big Sean: “Off The Wall is classic, it’s really just the biggest thing I feel like in music period. I remember thinking I was Michael Jackson, moonwalking across my grandmother’s hallway. [I can’t moonwalk anymore], but I try though. It doesn’t work. It seems like when I was younger I could dance like him real good, but now I just can’t at all.”
#1. Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982)
Big Sean: "Growing up I just wanted to be Michael Jackson. From the shoes to the dancing. I remember dancing in the mirror, I have so many happy memories to that. He was just the greatest. You gotta just give it up as far as his influence on everything. There’s no song on there that I don’t like. Even though it came out way before I was born, that’s one of those albums. When an album is forever and always the soundtrack to whatever you got going on no matter how old it is, that’s the test of a real good album."