One Man Can Change the World

Album: Dark Sky Paradise (2015)
Charted: 82
Play Video


  • This soulful ballad testifies to the endless potential one person has for changing the world. Sean invites Kanye West and John Legend along for the rise, with each taking a turn at crooning the hook. "I just lost my grandma," he told MTV News. "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."

    "It's just a song that comes straight 100 percent from the heart," Sean continued. "I hope people can enjoy it. And I really appreciate John Legend and Kanye West being a part of that."
  • Sean reflects here on the positive influences in his life, in particular his late grandmother. (She suffered a debilitating stroke and passed away in December 2014). The rapper includes a clip of a recorded phone conversation between the pair at the end of the song. "In a selfish way, it was hard to say goodbye," he told Billboard magazine, "but when I stepped back, I was happy she was free of the wheelchair and didn't have to go through that."
  • Big Sean's late grandmother, Mildred V. Leonard, was one of the first female black captains in World War II and a pillar in her Detroit community. Sean said: "I hope my grandma is looking down smiling on me right now. Because the struggles she went through to become a female black captain in WW2, one of the first black officers in Detroit, a teacher/counselor, an amazing mom/grandma were too great for this song not to be a single. I'm sure you can relate if you ever had somebody like that who changed your world."
  • Sean consciously chose not to swear on this specific track. He tweeted: "Know it's hard to imagine me not cursing on a song/single... (Cues up IDFWY, etc lol). But honestly I'm proud to have a song so heartfelt."
  • This won for Best Video with a Social Message at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, the first VMA for either Sean or Legend. Accepting the award, Sean dedicated it to his late grandmother, saying, "If one person has shown me that one man - meaning male or female - could change the world, it's her."

    The video was directed by Andy Hines, who also did Big Sean's "Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)" clip.

Comments: 1

  • Mutuma Emmanuel from UgandaI really love this heartfelt song, so good en I play it every day above 30 times.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New Words

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Where words like "email," "thirsty," "Twitter" and "gangsta" first showed up in songs, and which songs popularized them.

Christmas Songs

Christmas SongsFact or Fiction

Rudolf, Bob Dylan and the Singing Dogs all show up in this Fact or Fiction for seasonal favorites.

Jello Biafra

Jello BiafraSongwriter Interviews

The former Dead Kennedys frontman on the past, present and future of the band, what music makes us "pliant and stupid," and what he learned from Alice Cooper.

Dar Williams

Dar WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."

Boy Bands

Boy BandsFact or Fiction

From NKOTB to 1D, how well do you know your boy bands?