Detroit’s very own Big Sean has been known to keep his personal life relatively private over the course of his career, leaving the storytelling up to his songs and lyricism. After taking the music industry by storm in 2011 with the release of his song “Dance (A**)” featuring Nick Minaj, Big Sean rode the momentum with back-to-back releases that topped the music charts including “My Last” featuring Chris Brown, “Marvin & Chardonnay” featuring Ye and Roscoe Dash, and even “Mercy” featuring Ye, Pusha T and 2 Chainz.

Three years after the artist’s 2017 musical projects, I Decided and Double or Nothing, fans were excited about his resurgence with the grand-scale release of Detroit 2 in 2020 — the sequel to his initial 2012 release, Detroit. Though the MC has achieved fame, some fans still wonder who he is outside of all the accolades.

Here are 17 facts about Big Sean..

1. He graduated from Cass Technical High School

One of Detroit’s most historic and notable schools, Cass Technical High School has the honor to claim Big Sean as an alum. Part of the institution’s 2006 graduating class, the rapper has since returned to give back to his community. He made a virtual graduation speech during the COVID-19 pandemic and even built a music studio on the school’s campus in the fall of the 2022 semester. According to HipHopDX, Big Sean collaborated with Adidas to make the studio, known as the Sean Anderson Studio of Infinite Possibilities, come to life.

2. He got his start in rap after an audition with Ye

After countless times participating in after-school rap battles as a teenager, Big Sean was finally afforded the opportunity to have his lyrical skills heard on a grand scale. One of the prizes for the winner of a local contest was the chance to rap on the area’s radio station, and he luckily found out that Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, would also be there at around the same time. In an interview with Billboard, Big Sean reflected on seizing the golden opportunity to spit a few rhymes for the Chicago-bred MC, and he was able to make a quick yet impactful interaction.

In the years to follow, the “Play No Games” rapper eventually signed on to Ye’s record label at the time, G.O.O.D. Music, in 2007. In an interview on “Drink Champs,” Big Sean expressed that during this time, he initially struggled but held fast to his hope and turned down an academic scholarship to pursue a rap career.

3. His debut album sold 87,000 copies during the first week of its release

To kick off his music career, Big Sean released his debut, Finally Famous, in the summer of 2011. The album rose to high acclaim after fans soon realized that his clever word play and energetic flow was exactly what their playlist was missing. Its popularity was proven when Finally Famous sold 87,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.

4. He founded his own clothing line

Similar to many other music artists, Big Sean created a new lane of brilliance when he launched his clothing line, Aura Gold, in 2013. The brand encompassed various jackets, pants and accessories of eye-catching prints and a signature lion emblem. According to Hypebeast, the debut collection was showcased at streetwear fashion show PROJECT MVMNT in Las Vegas, Nevada.

5. He released a signature shoe under Adidas

As the momentum of his career persisted, Big Sean added the cherry on top and partnered with Adidas for a signature shoe as an ode to Finally Famous. The design team at Adidas Originals noticed how much of a fan the Grammy-nominated artist was of their merchandise and decided to loop him in, as explained by the brand’s Design Director at the time Brian Foresta in an interview with Complex. The Adidas Pro Model II design encompassed elements of Detroit flair with bold colors. At its launch, the collection debuted with 380 pairs and retailed for $160.

6. He voiced a character in an animated movie

A rapper’s voice isn’t just good for making great music, and Big Sean proved this to be true after being a part of the cast of the animated comedy film, Dog Gone Trouble. He voiced the main character, Trouble, who was a dog that was used to living a plush life with his owner before having to face the harsher realities of the real world. The 2019 movie also featured stars like Seth Rollins, Lucy Hale and Betty White.

7. TWENTY88 was launched as an ode to his birthday

The musical chemistry between the rap mogul and R&B singer Jhené Aiko had fans craving more after the release of their 2013 song, “Beware” from Big Sean’s Hall Of Fame. Both of their birthdays are in March, and the year they announced TWENTY88, they were both turning 28 years old. The pair announced the collaboration in March 2016, and released a self-titled EP the following month.

8. He guest starred in the movie, Cruel Summer

Alongside fellow artists Kid Cudi, Pusha T and mentor Ye, Big Sean was in good company during the filming of the 2012 short film, Cruel Summer. The film depicted the challenging story of a guy who falls in love with a blind woman who he wants to marry but must first excel at her father’s daunting tasks. It also featured other musicians such as Teyana Taylor, 2 Chainz, CyHi The Prynce and Hit-Boy. The film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and later received high esteem from publications such as Rolling Stone.

9. He is a mental health advocate

Outside of the storytelling that takes place throughout his discography, the “Precision” artist has made it a point to be open with his fans about his mental health struggles and amplify the importance of self-care. In an interview with ESSENCE, he spoke about his personal downfalls and triumphs throughout his mental health journey. After initially announcing publicly in 2019 that he suffered from anxiety and depression, he has since tried to change the narrative on what mental health looks like in communities of color.

10. He had a collection with PUMA

While fashion collaborations are common among music artists, Big Sean added a unique spin to his take after working with PUMA in 2017 and 2018. The Detroit lyricist’s collection encompasses both shoes and clothing with velvet and suede fabric types. In an interview with Complex, he explained that he chose PUMA because of their respect for his work and willingness to bring his ideas to life.

11. “Bounce Back” was one his most successful song releases

The 2016 release “Bounce Back” helped to maintain the momentum of many fans’ passion for Big Sean. The song received critical acclaim after garnering a listing on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, which tied it with “As Long As You Love Me” as the artist’s highest charting single. This accomplishment is notable for being the rapper’s first time making the list without a featuring artist.

12. He has been nominated for multiple Grammys

Like many musicians, Big Sean has been nominated and acknowledged for his contributions to the industry. In 2013, he received his first Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, later receiving a nomination for Best Melodic Rap Performance in 2016 for his song, “One Man Can Change The World.” Best Rap Performance was a prevalent nomination for the artist after taking his place among fellow nominees in both 2018 and 2021.

13. He’s won five BET Hip Hop Awards

After the release of rap classics like “I Don’t F**k With You” and “Moves,” Big Sean was given recognition for his lyricism and creativity. This included receiving awards in 2012, 2013 and 2015. According to Billboard, 2015 was especially a highlight year for the artist after he garnered three awards for Best Club Banger, Best Collabo, Duo or Group and People’s Champ Award. The accolades stemmed from his collaborations with fellow artists Drake and Ye on “Blessings” and for the popularity of “I Don’t F**k With You,” among others.

14. He performed at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series

In 2024, Big Sean took to the Tiny Desk stage after making his return from a small step back from the music game to focus on his personal life and other ventures. Fans and critics were able to enjoy the nostalgia in his discography with performances of “Play No Games,” “Light” and even “Blessings,” to name a few. Outside of background singers, the concert also featured musical accompaniment of violins, keyboard and a cello.

15. He has his own philanthropic organization

The Sean Anderson Foundation affords the youth of Detroit the opportunity to excel educationally and supports their health and safety. Big Sean launched this organization with his mother, Myra Anderson, in 2012. The organization has since provided financial aid through scholarships for students, mental health guidance and even an annual weekend hosted in Detroit called Don Weekend that allocates time for child enjoyment through games, giveaways and prizes.

16. He shares a son with songstress Jhené Aiko

After several musical collaborations, it was reported that Big Sean and Aiko were in a committed relationship since the release of TWENTY88, evidenced by an interview with Billboard where Aiko called the rapper the “love of her life.” The “Bounce Back” artist announced the birth of their son in November 2022 via Instagram.

17. He’s an author

In 2024, Big Sean took to Instagram to announce the release of his self-help book, “Go Higher: Five Practices for Purpose, Success and Inner Peace.” As the book’s description notes, it houses content surrounding the burning question of “if we worked on our self-care regularly, instead of only when we were in crisis, how much higher could we go?” The spiritual guidebook is intended to be a resource on fully embracing self-care and living in one’s truth. Fans can find his book on Amazon.