Big Sean’s “Sellin’ Dreams”: Style & Substance

February 27th, 2013 by | Tags:

I like this Big Sean song “Sellin Dreams,” with a hook by Chris Brown. It’s about breaking up with your side girl so you can be faithful to your main girl, but I appreciate the wordplay, how Sean tells the story, than the subject of the story itself. At this point, this is my favorite joint on Big Sean’s Detroit, though maybe “I’m Gonna Be” with Jhene Aiko is a better song overall. The chorus on that one is stellar, but I like the wordplay in “Sellin Dreams” more.

“Sellin Dreams” starts off pretty wack, honestly. Hell’s paradise/pair of dice is a soft rhyme, like Maybach/laid back. No effort, right? But Sean manages to smoothly slide from punchlines to content:

Welcome to Hell’s paradise
I always heard life was a pair of dice
Seven, eleven, or a pair of eyes
As I’m looking at her smearing eyes
She yelling, “Take them glasses off
“Your eyes are the only thing that’s not lying”

pair of dice to snake eyes to crying eyes to hidden and lying eyes. That transition really works for me, and he doesn’t telegraph it at all.

One of the things I love the most about rap is how you can get away with things like this, hiding depth in simple punchlines. The style is the substance, right? The style builds up an image, and that image is what you pull apart to understand the song. He compares snake eyes, a losing throw, with crying eyes at the end of a relationship. It’s the kind of thing that isn’t immediately obvious, but you feel it in your gut.

He does a few other things I think are pretty clever. “Not caring to the point that I stopped lying” is pretty deep, if only because it suggests that his idea of caring is lying, right? What’s that say about their relationship? When my little brother played me this song, “I broke the levee to your eyes, that “I don’t give a damn” shit” was the killer line, the thing that caught my attention and made me sit up. Dam/damn isn’t worth much of nothing, but the addition of levees and the context of the song made it really work. I like “We had that independent love, you tried to bring a label in” too, though that’s a little more obvious.

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2 comments to “Big Sean’s “Sellin’ Dreams”: Style & Substance”

  1. ……as a detroiter………i hate this nigga. i dont get it, can someone explain to me his appeal?

  2. @JB Big Sean’s appeal is that he’s got bars and a decent songwriter IMO……..But he’s really gotta work on his substance and conveying emotion…He never comes off as particularly thought provoking and only seems to be “into it” when rapping about the regular shit all rappers talk about.