Big Sean has been rapping since his early teens, but he hasn’t always been the Big Sean that we know today.
Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, aka ‘Big Sean’, released his first official debut single ‘My Last’ on March 1, 2011, featuring Chris Brown. Big Sean had previously released several mixtapes, including Finally Famous Vol 3: Big, in which arguably his first song, What U Doin’ was released in 2010.
Find out below when Big Sean released his first songs and earned his international star status.
From Young Boys to S.O.S
Sean Michael Leonard Anderson was born on March 25, 1988, in Santa Monica, California. At just 3 months old he moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother.
Anderson’s talent was initially noticed at the age of 12 by Sean Menifee, who mentored kids in West Side Detroit. Menifee’s two younger cousins were already members of a rap group, Young Boys, and he managed to persuade Anderson to become the third member.
During this period, Anderson began recording his first songs both as a solo artist and as part of the Young Boys. Although it could be argued at this point he didn’t officially record these tracks as ‘Big Sean’ and so these cannot be attributed as his first songs.
Anderson’s journey took a change of direction when he started high school at Cass Tech, leaving the other two members of Young Boys, who were still in Junior High at the time.
Here, he met Pat Williams and the two formed a duo called S.O.S (Son of the Streets). They began recording music in Menisee’s studio, which they distributed throughout their high school.
First Taste of Stardom
The pair had their first taste of stardom when they became weekly features in rap battles, hosted by the radio show Friday Cipher on 105.9FM. The winner of the rap battles would then get to perform live on air.
These battles and live performances were a crucial stepping stone, giving Anderson the confidence and connections to build his career and assisted his transition into becoming Big Sean.
One of Anderson’s friends called him to tell him that Kanye West was playing his new album, Late Registration, at the same radio station that he rapped at every Friday. He talked Anderson into going, saying “If you go down there and rap for him, he’ll sign you”.
Once he arrived at the radio station he leveraged the relationships he’d built over the past year to get close to West. In an interview with MTV, Anderson recalls West swiftly rejecting him, saying “No. I gotta go”, but Anderson persisted.
West caved and let him rap for him at the entrance of the radio station, to which West was impressed. “He starts looking at me and bobbing his head,” he recalls.
West wasn’t in a position to sign acts at the time and could not sign Anderson on the spot, but he clearly made quite an impression as the two exchanged phone numbers.
West later invited Anderson on the road as he recorded his album, Graduation. Shortly after this, West signed him to his record label G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam at the end of 2007.
Watch Big Sean below on how he met Kanye West.
First Song As Big Sean
After being signed to Kanye West’s record label, Anderson got down to work and started to write bars for his first official tracks.
Anderson initially released his first official mixtape titled ‘Finally Famous: The mixtape’ consisting of 22 tracks on September 30, 2007.
Being a new and unknown artist, Anderson didn’t release any one single song first. Instead, he released his entire mixtape, allowing his career to start gaining traction and fans.
From this point, he released two more mixtapes: Finally Famous Volume 2: Uknowbigsean and Finally Famous Volume 3: BIG in which he released the song ‘What U Doin’. He later released his first official studio album Finally Famous in June 2011.
Anderson decided to lead with ‘My Last’ as his first official debut single, which featured Chris Brown. The single peaked at number 30 in the Billboard hot 100 charts and number 1 in the Billboard hot rap songs.