Aesthetic: Big Sean
In 2005, aspiring teenage rapper Sean Michael Anderson caught wind that Kanye West would be visiting a local Detroit radio station for an interview. After pestering Kanye in the hallway of the station’s offices, Sean was granted the opportunity to spit a 16 bar freestyle that would change his life. Fast-forward one decade, and Big Sean’s third album Dark Sky Paradise has debuted at number one in the US Billboard charts.
It’s a career trajectory that’s seen Big Sean evolve from protege to a bona fide star, hooking up collaborations with the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Miguel, DJ Mustard and Mike WiLL Made It while inking deals with G.O.O.D. Music, Def Jam and Roc Nation along the way. Known to follow and instigate trends within hip-hop culture, over the years Sean has been seen rocking Bathing Ape, throwback sports jerseys, a Louis Vuitton coin pouch, leather pants, the sharp black suits of G.O.O.D. Music’s “Rosewood Movement” era and the “street goth” look that included pieces from En Noir, Alexandre Plokhov and Rick Owens. His forays into the fashion industry have included his own design of Adidas shoes, a collaboration with streetwear brand Been Trill and the launch of his clothing line Aura Gold to name a few.
Having appeared as a special guest at Kanye West’s surprise KOKO gig alongside Wu-Tang’s Raekwon, Vic Mensa, and UK MCs such as Skepta, JME, Novelist and Meridian Dan the night before, Sean was visibly hyped during our Aesthetic shoot. We caught him during a rare moment of downtime in his dressing room to discuss his influences, image and identity.
So firstly, how was the show last night?
Last night was amazing. Incredible. Literally 10 minutes before we hit the stage, were were like “Oh shit, what’s the setlist?!’ and so we all sat there and went over it together. Good times, man.
Your album is currently number one in the Billboard charts right now. How does that feel?
It feels awesome man. I couldn’t be happier about it. I come from Detroit, a lot of people from there don’t make it anywhere, and so it’s overwhelming when I think about it sometimes. This is my best album so far, I put my heart and soul into it. I put my privacy out on the line, I put my passion into it, all for people to relate to it in their own way.
Have you celebrated yet?
Nah, we haven’t celebrated yet. I haven’t even popped a bottle … I mean, I guess we did at the club. But I was only at the club because I had to be there. I’m super thankful for it, but really I’m trying to look past it, we gotta keep moving. I work so hard man, I don’t want to slow down for anything.
To what extent has rock culture influenced your style?
Lately it’s been influencing me more than ever. I’ve been wearing a lot of vintage rap tees with like ripped jeans and clothes that actually fit better, you know? I used to rock like big dumb ass clothes, I’m a size medium or sometimes a large, but I was rocking XXL and shit in high school.
Which artists do you think are pushing hip-hop culture forward right now?
I think Ye is the number one influence in rap culture right now.
Over the years, which rappers have inspired you as style icons?
I used to look up to Pharrell as a style icon, and I still do. And Ye, of course. Don C, Ibn Jasper, Nigo – those are my style icons too. And you’ve gotta give it to Hov too man. Like, he’d start wearing button-ups then everybody else start doing that. He’s changed the game a few times, style-wise.
Which labels or brands are you into right now?
I’m into a lot of newer brands. I really like Fear of God. I really like Saint Laurent – just their jeans more so than anything, they fit me really good. I’m super into Adidas. I’ve been wearing a lot of old Raf Simmons, I really like Bape. And just a lot of plain pieces too, nice hoodies, classic bombers. I’m really into this Stussy bomber.
You grew up in Westside Detroit. Are there any styles or trends which are unique to that area?
Detroit was known for being very stylish, ‘Detroit players’ they get labelled as. A lot of fur coats, gator shoes, a lot of suits and linen, scarves, fresh leather jackets. Really cool dressers man. And bright stuff too, like pink gators and green suits and shit like that. It’s definitely a city of players. It’s changed over the years, but there’s still that type of flair.
Was there a favourite piece that you wore for the shoot today?
I like the fur coat. It reminded me of some Detroit player shit. And I guess that’s what I am at heart. Detroit is in me.
Photographer: Tom Johnson
Assistants: Mees Tempellaar + Tom Turpie
Stylist: Charlotte James
Art Direction: Alfie Allen
Assistants: Carlene Harris
Makeup: Nicole Lequerica
Groomer: Matt Ikomoni
Dark Sky Paradise is out now via G.O.O.D. Music and Def Jam / Virgin EMI