Big Sean Discusses His Son, New Music and His New Self-Help Book (Exclusive)

Big Sean first opened up in 2019 about his mental health struggles, including depression and anxiety and now he’s coming out with a book to help others, too.

Sean, born Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, never meant to be an advocate. “I remember when I spoke up about it, how big of a deal it was,” he tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t even realize. I thought I was just keeping it real with my audience and, like, how I felt…You know, life is full of ups and downs, and that’s the beauty of it all.”

Then someone said to him, “This could be a book.”

“I was talking to Jay Shetty on his podcast [in 2022],” he recalls. “At the end of it, he just pulled me to the side and was like, ‘You’ve got to write a book, bro.’ Even after the interview, he kept texting me like, ‘Yo, man. Let me know when you got the book coming.'”

Sean, now 36, has done just that. Speaking to PEOPLE exclusively for the announcement and cover reveal, he calls the new book more of a workbook “and not, like homework.” Go Higher: Five Practices for Purpose, Success, and Inner Peace will reveal his five key practices for inner work and how he found self-acceptance and mental wellness. It will be published in October by Simon Element.

Big Sean’s new book ‘Go Higher’.

Simon Element

“The stuff that I really needed when I needed help, that I was able to get came because I had a great family of scholars,” he explains. “My mom, my grandma, they gave us books and encouraged us. I feel like my book summed up of a lot of those books I read.”

He found inspiration in self-help and spiritual books such as The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, among others. “A lot of the information in this book, by the way, is a culmination of a lot of the books that I’ve read,” Sean explains. “Being young and Black, and trying to give myself a foundation of how to go to the next version of myself.”

The artist says he journals and meditates at the beginning of every day, for about 15 minutes of meditation and another 10 of “journaling and just, like, writing down my feelings.”

Sean says the book also includes his own personal stories: “Things that I’ve learned along the way, how I have applied them, how they’ve worked for me and worked for others as well.”

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“The point of this book really is how to have a foundation to build upon for wellness, for your mental, for spiritual, spiritually,” he continues. “How to have a piece of armor for the tough times that you may have to endure. You know, a lot of us wait until we’re in the darkest place to start praying or to start working on ourselves.”

Big Sean.

Brian Ziff

One of the lessons in the book, Sean says, will be just that: How to cope with the challenges of life that “can make you or break you.”

“There are a lot of other ways people cope with the pressures of life. And for me, this has been the most beneficial,” the rapper continues. “I’ve gone a lot of other ways. I’ve been high all the time. I’ve tried to suppress [my feelings]. And the thing about alcohol and things like that, when you’re depressed, like, alcohol is a depressant…You’re literally feeding it and getting yourself in a rotation of, yeah, it numbs the pain, but you have to keep doing it. Same with drugs, having to stay high all the time. I have nothing against that, by the way. People who drink, I got nothing against it. Ive got nothing against people who get high. But, you know, that’s just something that doesn’t work for me.”

But the relatively new dad also says there’s a lot to be learned from the happy moments, like the birth of his son, Noah. “He’s coming up on 17 months,” Sean says.

Big Sean and Jhene Aiko.

Kevin Mazur/Getty

He shares Noah with his partner Jhene Aiko — who has a daughter, Namiko Love, 15, from a previous relationship. Sean and Aiko first met in 2012, and the pair has dated on and off throughout the years. They released their collaborative album Twenty88 in 2016 and welcomed Noah last November. Sean says he loves being a dad and is open about how much Noah has brought to his life.

“He’s changed me in so many ways, honestly. But one of the ways that has really been a lesson that I’m still learning is to be even more intentional with everything,” he says. “And just being in the moment. Even in nature. Like, on our walks. It’s definitely a learning process. I’m only 17 months in.”

Sean says he now sees the world through Noah’s eyes. “It’s funny how they end up being the teachers. Even though you’re there to guide and teach them, they teach you. That’s something I really appreciate.”

Big Sean performing at Hollywood Park Grounds.

Scott Dudelson/Getty

The rapper recently performed a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. “My brother sent me a video of my mom watching it on her computer,” he says with a laugh. It was, he feels, a culmination of his career up to this point, since first being discovered by Kanye West in 2007. His debut album, Finally Famous was released in 2011, and spawned three hit singles; “My Last,” “Marvin & Chardonnay” and “Dance (Ass)”.

“My mom was crying and dancing watching it,” he says. “It’s easy for people lose perspective of how far we’ve come, how we are all trying our best out there to survive and to exist. You know what I’m saying?”

And in addition to the book, new music is on the way. “I’m actually finishing things up right now. All I can say is that it’s coming this year.”

Go Higher: Five Practices for Purpose, Success, and Inner Peace by Big Sean comes out October 8 from Simon Element and is available for preorder now, wherever books are sold.

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