Music

Big Sean Plays Classics, Teases Sixth Album During 2024 NFL Draft Concert

Past, present and future stars of the football world were in Detroit on Thursday (April 25) for the 89th annual NFL Draft. But some of the city’s music superstars — specifically rappers Eminem and Big Sean and Motown legend Smokey Robinson — made sure the throngs of fans attending the festivities didn’t forget the Motor City’s rich musical heritage. 

And Eminem added to the celebration by announcing his next album, The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grace), for summer release via an ad during the draft broadcast. 

Big Sean was charged with opening the nightly NFL Draft Concert Series, delivering parts of 11 songs during a half-hour long set. Backed by a DJ, drummer and keyboard player, Sean prowled the opulent Draft Theater stage sporting a bandana and a Detroit Lions jersey with the number 97, worn on game days by popular homegrown defensive lineman Aiden Hutchinson. “If you’re excited about the NFL Draft. let me hear you,” he called to a sea of super fans inside the theater and tens of thousands gathered in a public area just beyond – a record-setting crowd of more than 275,000 that forced the NFL to close gates early in the evening. 

Playing his first home town show in nearly two years, Sean — who now resides in Beverly Hills — marveled at “the fact I went to school right around the corner from here… I used to record right around the corner at my homie’s studio, and this was all I ever wanted to do, man. So I just gotta say thank you for anybody who’s ever heard a song of mine, sang it at a bar, purchased a song.”

Sean reached all the way back to his first album, 2011’s Finally Famous, for “My Last” and dotted the set with career-spanning hits including “Paradise,” “Blessings” and “Bounce Back.” He also touched on collaborations with Kanye West (“Mercy” and “Clique”) and Drake (“All Me”) and dedicated a rendition of YG’s “Big Bank” to Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who signed a four-year contract extension with the team on Thursday.

Sean also featured his latest single, “Precision,” and told the crowd he was working on his sixth album, the follow-up to 2020’s Detroit 2. In addition, he shouted out his nearly year-and-a-half year old son with Jhene Aiko, saluted this year’s draft prospects — who he called “all my future multi-millionaires” — and gave props to fans from other teams. But Sean made his own rooting interest clear. “I know the Lions are gonna get their shot, you feel me?” he said. “Sooner or later… I can feel it, though.” 

The Lions won the NFC’s North division last season, but lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the conference finals, one game shy of reaching the Super Bowl. Ironically some fans held up a “You’re in 49ers” banner in front of Sean throughout the performance. 

Robinson was not at the draft in person, but provided a voice-over for the prime time broadcast on ESPN and the NFL Network, with a new mix of the Temptations’ “Get Ready” — which Robinson wrote and produced — playing behind him.

Devout Lions fan Eminem then helped to kick off the draft itself with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, first taking part in a filmed segment in which Goodell proposed a rap battle — to Eminem’s obvious bewilderment. Then, he joined Goodell on stage to turn the crowd’s boos (a ritual when it comes to the commissioner) to cheers. “Detroit, what up! It’s here!” Eminem shouted. “Make some noise for the Detroit Lions,” he added before ushering on current team stars Hutchinson, St. Brown and quarterback Jared Goff and Hall of Fame veterans Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson to more rapturous cheers. 

The NFL Draft, as well as the Concert Series, continues through Saturday. The celebrated Detroit Youth Choir performs on Friday, while “Mine” hitmaker Andrew Bazzi, who hails from nearby Canton, Mich. wraps things up on Saturday.

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