ATLANTA (AP) — Big Sean didn't think his single "I Don't F--- With You" would become a hit. But Kanye West, the rapper's mentor, convinced him during a recording session that he had a smash hit.
He was also encouraged to release the song after having dinner with Jay Z and Beyonce at their home.
"They knew it would be big," said Big Sean of the DJ Mustard-produced "IDFWU," which topped Billboard's Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop songs charts and peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100. "At the time, I just didn't think of it like that."
The song was released a few months after his broken engagement to "Glee" star Naya Rivera last year, but he says it wasn't focused on her.
"IDFWU" built momentum for his new album, "Dark Sky Paradise," released this week. The Detroit-raised rapper recorded the entire album from his home in Los Angeles.
Big Sean said the comfort of recording away from Detroit for the first time helped him creatively express his thoughts. He said he dealt with a lot of "ups and downs" during the recording process, including his breakup with Rivera and the pressure to overcome the harsh criticism of his previous album, "Hall of Fame."
"I was just letting aggression out (on) this album," he said. "This is more serious and also fun. I didn't really listen to the label or hardly anybody else. This is the first time I really followed my heart all the way through. I'm proud of listening to myself."
Big Sean, who is signed to West's GOOD Music imprint, said the rapper was "heavily involved," producing three songs on the new album. "This was the most he's ever been involved with any of my projects," he said.
"I always feel good about getting advice from him. He's a great tastemaker, and his opinion is valid. We might disagree sometimes, but he always respects me."
The album features some of music's heavy hitters, including Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, John Legend and Jhene Aiko. Hit makers from DJ Mustard, Mike Will Made-it, Boi-1da and T-Minus laid down the tracks.
Big Sean, who is dating pop star Ariana Grande, said he enjoyed recording the bonus track "Research" with her.
"Her voice is amazing," he said. "Working together with her was not weird at all. It was good to have her put our relationship aside, come together and make great music."
Asked if Grande has ever sung him to sleep, Big Sean said: "Not yet. Funny question. But that's a good idea."
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31