Interview: Big Sean Talks About Getting Signed, Being Broke, Building His Buzz & Fashion

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Complex magazine caught up with G.O.O.D. Music rapper Big Sean. The rapper is Finally Famous after releasing a sequel of mixtapes and a debut album; which debuted in the top 5 on Billboard 200. So far, Sean’s album Finally Famous: The Album  has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Sean is also touring with Wiz Khalifa. In the August/September issue of Complex, Sean talked about getting signed, being broke, building his buzz and fashion. Below are some excerpts:

What was it like after you got signed? When you couldn’t even get a job in the mall?

Those were like the worst times of my life. I turned down all my scholarships to school. People thought that I was signed to Kanye, but I wasn’t. I got signed when in 2008, but I met him in 2006. Kanye said he wanted to sign me, but that shit took over a year and a half.

It was even a long process after I got signed because I got signed strictly off talent and not buzz. And he’s on tour and doing all this shit after he told me he wanted to sign me and I’m at home in the hood living with my mom and being broke as fuck.

I was spending my last money on studio sessions. I didn’t have having money for shit, [I was living] bummy as hell trying to put stuff together. But those times taught me so much and made me appreciate these times so much more. I made a lot of good music at that time. Those times are important in life.

Source: Complex

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On Building His Buzz

Gabe—the publicist at Def Jam—was like, “Man, you gotta get your buzz up.” I’m like, “What the fuck you mean? Just shoot this video, put it on TV, put it on the radio, and that’ll get my buzz up.” He’s like, “Nah man you gotta grassroot it.” And I didn’t know what the fuck that meant.

I realized that I had to give them incentive to mess with me as an artist, to get fully behind me. I didn’t have a strong buzz so why would they wanna put out my album over a Young Jeezy or Kanye or Rihanna? But then I realized that any song that I put out was posted on the Internet. I realized, “I could build my own following doing this. Man, fuck a label. I’m just gonna do me.”

I went harder than I ever went even before I got signed to a label. I would pass out CDs, do battles, open mics, shoot little weak ass virals. And it started paying off. I started getting my own fan base when I came out withUKnowBigSean and that raised the stakes a little. Then when I came out with [my last mixtape Finally Famous 3: BIG] that’s when my buzz really got big. And then with a mixture of the BET cypher and good ass looks, people started catching on.

Who inspires you, fashion wise?
Don C was one of my [fashion] mentors. Ibn Jasper, Kanye, Nico, and Pharrell. When I first met Kanye, I didn’t really have that much style. I always had a style—it’s just an extension of you—but I didn’t know how to translate the style into my clothes, nor did I have all the money I needed to. [Laughs.] Sometimes you just can’t afford that shit. Even now, there’s a whole bunch of shit I can’t afford so it would be pointless for me to even get it.

When I see a belt that cost over a $1000 I’m like, “Ain’t no way I’m gonna spend like $1000 on a belt.” Even shoes, I’m not about to spend fucking $700 on some shoes, that’s just fucking ridiculous. You can make exception for the Kanye Louis Vuittons, but I ain’t even pay for those.

Read the entire interview over at Complex.

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of For all general inquiries please email Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.