Growing up, there was a magnet forever stuck to my grandmother’s freezer that read, “God couldn’t be everywhere at once, so he invented Grandmas”. Inside of the fridge were the endless amounts of ice cream that she’d shove into my bowl until I was ready to burst, waddling back out to my mother’s car like Violet in Willy Wonka. Every Sunday we’d meet her at church, where she’d supply me with Werther’s Caramel and if I was lucky, a $20 bill. Being that my grandparents have consistently lived in the same town as my family, Thanksgiving and Christmas were always held at my house, my grandmother slaving over a giant bird as she whipped up a tower of mashed potatoes so high it looked like a blizzard had hit the kitchen. Despite the fact that we rarely saw eye-to-eye on pretty much anything, I couldn’t help but remember all she had blessed me with as I hugged her goodbye last year and moved across the country.
Luckily for me, both of my grandmas are still living, the closer of which being my mother’s mother, and I haven’t yet experienced the depth of emotion that Big Sean highlights on “One Man Can Change the World“. The song is a reflection on the positive influences that allowed Sean to become the person he is, a major one being his grandmother, who passed not long before he released Dark Sky Paradise in 2015. “I just lost my grandma, so, right before she passed, I wrote this song. A major part of the song is about her. She never got a chance to hear it. It’s just an emotional thing“, he told MTV. Jumping forward to his new project I Decided, we get a similar but more light-hearted tone on “Sunday Morning Jetpack“, a song he first premiered last month on Saturday Night Live. Based on the subject matter and mood, I immediately remembered another song that was inspired by Sunday visits with grandma: The Social Experiment‘s “Sunday Candy“.
“Sunday Candy” features a mighty presence from Chance the Rapper, who quite like Sean Don, reminisces on childhood memories of his grandmother. The treats that she gives young Chance during church service represent the love and care she’s given him, never failing to uplift his spirit and provide comfort when the rains of life come.
I come to church for the candy, your peppermints is the truth/I’m pessimistic on Monday if I had tweaked and missed you. ~ “Sunday Candy”
Later on, he calls her his “dreamcatcher, dream team, team captain” as well as the “president of my fan club“, further demonstrating how she’s been an active influencer in his success. Without the support of his grandmother, Chance wouldn’t have his mind right, and he’s forever grateful.
Sean, on the other hand, views the love of his grandmother as a jetpack, literally and figuratively propelling him to new heights as she continues to inspire him from beyond the grave.
Thank you God for all my set backs/’Cause he the reason I’m able to give back/This feels like my Sunday morning jetpack/Feel like I sent the prayers up and got blessed back, whoa. ~ “Sunday Morning Jetpack”
It’s clear that Sean receives these blessings as coming from his own personal angel, who watched over him and life and even now still. He recalls her making cakes, preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and waving him goodbye on prom night, much like I remember my grandma. He finishes of his verse by saying he hopes it serves as a thank you for all she did for him, an act that probably feels long overdue, but one he can never give enough of.
Towards the end of each track, both Chance and Sean touch on the association between their grandmother’s and church: Chance saying, “Matter fact, I ain’t seen you in a minute, let me take my butt to church“, and Sean rapping, “we always used to dress up as a family/And go to Sunday service, and being in church, singin’/Ain’t been to church in awhile/But it ain’t just about how you just praise him in the building/It’s about how you praisin’ him while you out“. Both young men are fully aware of the holy presence that lives within and throughout their loving grandmothers, the positive influence and care that has shaped them to be men as such. In listening, I can’t help but think of my grandma and her affection that pushed me through troubled days of my youth with spiritual hope and joy. Sean, Chance and myself would have to agree with that old saying: Grandmothers truly are a gift from God.