Big Sean signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2007 (after rapping for him at a radio station in 2005) and grew his fanbase over the next decade. But after dropping Double Or Nothing with Metro Boomin in 2017, Sean canceled the Unfriendly Reminder tour with Playboi Carti and seemed to fall off the face of the earth. He finally gave an update in March, saying, “I stepped back from everything I was doing, everything I had going on, because somewhere in the middle of it, I just felt lost and I didn’t know how I got there.” He sought out professional help and went to therapy, untangling the cords of his life. He revealed that this resulted in him making the best music of his life. Four months later, that turns out be true with the release of “Overtime.” He’s back — bolder, stronger, and better than ever.
It starts with confidence. Sean’s not rebuilding his entire aesthetic from the ground up; he’s tightening it. “Overtime” is like a triumphant chorus of horns that play after a triple-overtime win during March Madness. It immediately lets you know that victory is here, that the battle between Sean and himself is won. “Shit, I didn’t take a break, my n—a, I broke / Broke my heart, broke my soul, don’t cry for me though / If you don’t break nothing down then it’s no room to grow / One mental block lead to another, shit it’s dominos / Mixtape Sean, but I’m in album mode,” he raps, setting himself up for the future by casting away the past. (He even adopts a spot-on Kawhi Leonard laugh.) What sticks the most about “Overtime” is how it feels so much like a prequel. For longtime fans, new fans, and nosy haters eager to create memes, it offers a slice of Sean’s best parts, even managing to make his lesser ones redeemable. —Trey Alston