Ok, so truth be told, I don’t really like pun rap very much. Nine times out of ten, I think that rappers just use lyrical puns as an excuse to deliver really terrible, pointless lines while pretending to be clever (lookin' at you, Lil Wayne). For me, the one exception to this rule comes in the form of Big Sean. Kanye’s most successful protégé (unless you count Chance) is definitely a pun rapper, but his combination of slick, almost childish delivery and genuinely clever lines helps elevate him above every other rapper who relies on puns to make a point.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of Big Sean’s best lines.
“I’m the good with the evil/f*ck you nice to meet you/ you can’t have a peace sign without that middle finger”- All Your Fault ft. Kanye West
This, to me, is quintessential Big Sean. No, he’s not saying anything deep or profound, but he manages to get three solid bars out of a funny idea while still making a kinda-valid point about how society functions. He might be saying the same thing three times in a row, but the way he approaches the ideas from three different angles helps take a solid idea and emphasize it without beating the pun into the ground.
Dishonorable mention from this song: “wrap my rollie (rolex) around my waist/man time’s a-wasting” … what?
“Drop it to the floor, make that ass shake/make the ground move, that’s an ass-quake/ build a house up on that ass, that’s an ass-tate/ roll my weed on it, that’s an ass-tray”- Mercy Kanye West ft. Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz
This line is the 22 Jump St. of rap lyrics. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but that’s kinda the idea. I see this as a bar that’s supposed to poke fun at pun rap while also celebrating the art of laughing at stupidity. Plus, you can’t tell me you didn’t grin just a little when a grown man got paid an absurd amount of money to say the word “ass-quake.”
“I grinded out that black hole then performed up at the white house/ standing next to Jim Carey we traded stories and laughed/ I said ‘you not the only one I know got rich wearing masks’” –One Man Can Change the World ft. Kanye West, John Legend
Here, we see how Big Sean can distinguish himself from every pun rapper (and really every rapper period) in the game. Growing up in tough areas is probably the most-covered subject matter in rap, and yet, in 2016, Big Sean managed to find a new way to discuss the poverty he faced. This line is genuinely clever, funny, inspiring while still working as a traditional brag line. We’ll see more from this song in a bit.
“The like ‘Boy won’t you get your rest on?/ Bitch, cause I’m up for every hour I was slept on”- Guap
If growing up poor is the most covered content in the rap game, working hard is a close second. Guap is undoubtedly one of the best brag-tracks of the past 5 years, and this line serves as a perfect example of why. You get a sense of the chip on Sean’s shoulder, understand why he feels so disrespected and see that he has genuine lyrical talent all over the course of two lines. Not bad.
“Taught me how to love, taught me not to cry/ when I die I hope you teach me how to fly/ All my life you’ve been that angel in disguise” One Man Can Change the World ft. Kanye West, John Legend
More than anything, what Big Sean does well is make music that is fun to listen to. His voice floats along with fast, high-energy delivery, his production almost always has that slick, Kanye-inspired catchiness and his lyrical content is funny and clever. Nothing is serious, even poverty or disrespect can be joked about in a Big Sean song. Here, though, he drops all of that. The beat is little more than 3 notes looped on a piano, the delivery is slow (by Big Sean standards) and, most powerfully, there is no joke, no simile, no pun. The simplicity of this line contrasts beautifully with the rest of this track (and really, Sean’s whole catalogue) to leave the reader with one unavoidable point: Big Sean loves his grandma.
As beautiful as this song is, I do have to give out a dishonourable mention here: “I hope you get the pretty girls, who pretty and everything.” Maybe there’s some joke here I’m not noticing, but I kinda doubt it. There’s like a billion two-syllable adjectives that could be used to describe attractive girls, but his lazy ass just repeated pretty. Try harder.