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Big Sean Describes Getting ‘The Highest Honor’ From Lil Wayne

He talks to MTV News about competitiveness and what keeps him inspired

There’s an old saying that goes “never meet your heroes,” because they usually end up disappointing you. It seems that Big Sean has managed to duck that fate, at least when it comes to Lil Wayne. Sean recently paid homage to the New Orleans legend on Twitter, writing, “Man I’ll never forget what u said bout me on my song ‘Deep’ [...] U changed rap 4ever, God bless you!”

Last weekend, the Detroit MC elaborated on his friendship with Wayne in an interview with MTV News ahead of his electric performance at the Movie & TV Awards.

“So the lyrics I was referring to with Wayne was on our song ‘Deep’ on Dark Sky Paradise, when he was talking about, ‘I feel like Sean don’t get enough shine,’” he said. “When somebody — especially in rap music, because it’s so competitive — pays respect to another artist like that, I feel like that’s the highest honor you could do. Especially when you know there’s no business, it’s just all love. And that’s what it is with Wayne: It’s nothing but love.”

The two have worked together on a handful of other collaborations over the years, like “Beware” and “My Homies Still.” But that “Deep” cosign still sticks out and hits just as close to home for Big Sean now as it did when it first came out in 2015.

“[Lil Wayne] is somebody who I’ve been continuously working with; we’ve been working with each other since the beginning of my career,” Sean explained. “And just like a lot of us, I rode to school listening to Dedication 1, to Tha Carter 1, 500 Degreez. I’m one of the biggest Lil Wayne fans in the world, so you can just imagine what that feel like.

“And that Carter V on the way, too — he told me to say that,” he added, shouting out Lil Wayne’s long-awaited studio album. The project is currently in limbo as Wayne goes through the legal process of separating from his Cash Money label. But Sean has high hopes for it, saying, “I just wanna see Wayne at his best.”

Big Sean’s friendship with Lil Wayne is one he doesn’t take for granted, especially because he recognizes how fiercely competitive hip-hop is. Just five months into the year, we’ve not only seen him top the charts with I Decided, but Migos, Drake, Future, and Kendrick Lamar all scored No. 1 albums as well. They’re all at the top of their game right now, and Sean says that domination is all about having a winner’s mentality.

“For me, it’s 2017, you feel me? It’s time to boss up. It’s time to make no more mistakes. And I feel like that’s the mentality of everybody right now. This isn’t our first time here. We’re here and we’re here to make a statement,” he said. “I know I’m hungrier than ever. And I’m on my fourth album, but there’s so much more to get out there, there’s so much more to say. And stuff I have to prove to myself. I know what it’s like to be the underdog, I know what it’s like to be slept on, and I know what it’s like to know your true potential and it not be executed. And right now, we executing it.”

That competitiveness helps fuel him, but it’s not everything — and Big Sean’s quick to point out that the rivalries, the shot-calling, and the beefs that are so ubiquitous in hip-hop aren’t things he’ll ever define himself by.

“One of the things I always say is we can’t let the competitiveness — I mean, that’s a part of our nature, that’s what we are — but we can’t let that always get in front of our message,” he explained. “I’m down with being competitive, but one of the things I don’t ever want to get lost is the true reason I do this, [which] is to get the inspiration across. It’s to get you from one point to another point in your life and upgrade it. And that’s truly why I do it. I don’t do it based [on] another person or what this person thinks about me. I’m tunnel vision to what my goals are.”

Instead, he’s motivated by his family and giving them opportunities to achieve their own dreams. He’s inspired by the things he sees going on in the world — his recently released “Light” video, for example, has a powerful message about standing up to police brutality and senseless violence. And most of all, he’s driven by making himself the best artist he can be.

“It keeps me hungry, and it keeps me going, and my next project is definitely in the works already. I’m excited cause I know it’s going to be my best one yet,” he said. “I know where my potential is, I know where my peak is. I didn’t hit it yet.”