Heeeere’s Sean! — Big Sean and The Shining

Introduction

The music videos that Big Sean has dropped for Detroit 2 (“ZTFO”, “Wolves”, and “Lithuania”) have all incorporated spiritual elements. In “ZTFO”, for example, Big Sean channels the transcendent energy of the Buddha as he levitates around his house. In “Lithuania” the spirituality leans more toward the paranormal and works against Big Sean and Travis Scott. The video references The Shining, which provides rich visuals and works with the director’s goal of showing Big Sean’s success over obstacles he has faced in his life.

Context

“Lithuania” is off Big Sean’s fifth studio album Detroit 2, the sequel to his 2012 mixtape Detroit. Both the album and the music video were released on September 4th, 2020, almost exactly 8 years after the mixtape. The music video was directed by Mike Carson, a frequent collaborator with Big Sean, as well as the co-director of “America” by Mac Miller which I analyzed a few months ago. The two have experimented with different genres, and this video is yet another new style for them.

Big Sean. Detroit 2, GOOD Music, 2020.

Analysis

The main source of the video’s mood can be found in the cinematography, specifically the camera movement. From the very first shot the camera movement creates an unsteady and warped environment. The video begins with a Vertigo shot, or dolly shot, to create the feeling that the room is closing in around Big Sean and Travis Scott. It causes a sense of claustrophobia and the feeling that they are in hostile surroundings. This shot is repeated when Scott is in the maze for a similar effect.

Conclusion

The references to The Shining place Big Sean and Travis Scott in a dangerous environment and make the viewer believe they are in peril. In addition to the visual references such as the hallway and maze, the director creates this hostile mood through camera techniques. The use of Vertigo shots, for example, creates a sense of unsteadiness. Big Sean and Travis Scott are shown to be unfazed by the forces working against them, though. This is achieved through anticlimaxes that work against the viewer’s assumptions of well-known references as well as the two artists’ nonchalant acting style throughout the video. The two are calm and collected despite the craziness around them, a quality we all need these days.

Analyses of some of the most interesting and important music videos of the past decade.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store