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Concert Reviews:
Big Sean turns Joe Louis Arena into rap "Paradise" with guest-filled show

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, November 7, 2015

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DETROIT -- Big Sean has a new problem -- How does he top the show he put on Friday night, Nov. 6, at Joe Louis Arena?

After bringing big names such as Kanye West, Drake and Nicki Minaj out for previous headlining dates at the Palace of Auburn Hills and the DTE Energy Music Theatre, the West Bloomfield-based rapper went for broke in his first major downtown Detroit appearance, turning the hour-and-50-minute concert into nothing less than an all-star hip-hop festival.

The culminating was a full-cast encore performance of "Detroit vs. Everybody," the rallying cry hit from Eminem's "Shady XV" label compilation last year. Eminem, sporting a white Run-DMC tribute hoodie, slayed his verse and, not surprisingly, got the biggest ovation. But with Dej Loaf, Royce da 5'9", Danny Brown and Trick Trick also on the stage, it was a long-awaited MC summit meeting that was as exciting in the flesh as it looks on paper and capped a night that had already established a new standard for Big Sean extravaganzas.

Dej Loaf started the guest parade early on, joining Big Sean in for "Try Me," a bit of "Be Real" and "Back Up Off Me," and shortly after that longtime friend and Birmingham Groves grad Mike Posner, sporting a red bandana, hopped on stage to recreate their early collaboration "Smoke & Drive" before Big Sean left the stage for Posner to deliver his hit "Cooler Than Me." Jehne Aiko came on for "Beware" and "I Know," and Lil Wayne -- received almost as rapturously as Eminem -- teamed with Big Sean for a fierce medley of "A Milli," "F*** You" and "Love Me" as well as versions of "How Many Times" and "Deep."

Clearly Big Sean wasn't kidding when the told the Joe Louis crowd, more than once, that it was "the best night of my life."

It was an night that wasn't just about the guest stars, either. Roaming a two-tiered stage designed to look like a street block -- with a church on one side and a liquor store on the other -- Big Sean was a commanding presence throughout the concert. Sporting five different outfits, including a personalized Red Wings jersey with the number 15, he rapped with authority and dug deep into his three albums and several mixtapes for both bit hits ("My Last," "Marvin & Chardonnay," "Dance (A$$)," "I Don't F*** With You," "Mercy") and devotee favorites such as "Mula," "Too Fake," "Supa Dupa Lemonade" and "High."

He also recreated his features from Drake's "All Me" and Rick Ross' "Sanctified," while the show-closing "One Man Can Change the World" -- during which Big Sean appeared overcome with emotion -- was an anthemic call to action and a reminder, after all the flash and dazzle, the show was also a fundraiser for his charity, the Sean Anderson Foundation. "This is everything I wanted, and it's because of you guys," he told the crowd. "It's a (expletive) honor to do it this big in my city, to come home and see all of this...I promise to never let you down."

With Big Sean's track record that certainly seems unlikely -- but he certainly has a tough act to follow the next time he plays at home.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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