Micke Ahola

Big Sean and Tony Robbins

How Big Sean’s I Decided mirrors the ideas of Tony Robbins

A review of Big Sean's I Decided

In an interview with Zane Lowe in January 2017, Big Sean said he felt like “life is all about the decisions you make”. The interview was part of Big Sean’s press tour leading up to his fourth studio album, I Decided, which he released a month later. I had been enjoying Bounce Back, a catchy collaboration with the Atlanta producer Metro Boomin and the first single from I Decided, so I decided to give the album a listen.

Last night I took a L, but tonight I bounce back

Bounce Back set the tone for the album, as seen in the quotation above, which is a line from the song’s chorus. For those not up to date with hip-hop terminology, “L” stands for “loss”. I Decided itself is a concept album, where Big Sean plays with the idea of having an older version of himself advising his younger self, and pushing him towards the right decisions.

Around the same time as Big Sean appeared in the Zane Lowe interview, I was two weeks into my spring semester at UEA, and found myself skipping class and putting off work. Throughout the winter break I had told myself that I would change in the spring semester and stop this habit, and knew that something had to be done. I defaulted to doing the one thing that I knew could always provide solutions: reading. After a brief googling session, I got my hands on a book called Awaken the Giant, by the renowned American motivational speaker Tony Robbins. The book has a lot of self-help jargon, advertisement of Robbins’ seminars and his other literature, but also some ideas and advice that I found genuinely helpful. One of the segments I found particularly interesting discussed the power of decisions.

All changes are created in a moment. It’s just that most of us wait until certain things happen before we finally decide to make a shift.

Awaken the Giant, p.108

Responding to someone who argued that change always takes time, Robbins replies by saying that it is not the change itself that times time, it is the decision to make that change which takes time. Once you truly reach that decision, the change itself is instant. So what is it that allows us or stops us from making a decision? If we really could make any decision we wanted and create instant change in ourselves, why aren’t we all doing it? These are some of the issues Robbins discusses in the book, and the gist of it is that the only way to make a decision is to create and foster a desire to follow through with your decision, and to not allow yourself any other option but to keep going.

On the song Voices in My Head / Stick to the Plan, Big Sean’s older self gives the young Sean some advice:

I Decided album cover
I Decided album cover

Stay focused

Don’t let these niggas see your emotions

Stick to the notion, stay in motion

Remember soon as you stand still

So will everything else you notice

Make sure your inner actions end with actions

The disconnect between your inner and outer actions is something that I think a lot of people can relate to, whether it is something as trivial as deciding to stop bingeing on Netflix, or more serious, like quitting smoking or staying in university. Big Sean decided to be a rapper, and he persisted on that goal. He found his big opportunity when he heard that Kanye West was at a radio station nearby: he rushed there, waited for Kanye to come out, and then started rapping for him. Kanye initially dismissed him, but after Big Sean persisted Kanye listened to the end of his freestyle, and then told him to give his details to Kanye’s entourage.

I Decided is about the decisions that every human has the capability to make, and which can change our lives if we just have the will and persistence to follow through with them. I think, if nothing else, it’s something that we could all spend a little time thinking about.

I Decided is available on all major streaming services. 

(Big Sean source / Tony Robbins by Brian Solis / CC BY 2.0)