Big Boi: Five Mics (Flavor of the Week)

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Big Boi: Five Mics

OutKast is one of the greatest and easily most innovative, hip hop group of all time. Their artistic style constantly evolves with each album possessing its own unique identity yet remaining commercially viable for well over a decade (all of their albums have gone at least platinum with one going diamond). But as a team, OutKast has not released an album since Idlewild way back in 2006. Andre 3000 has focused more on acting during that time while Big Boi has remained strong in the industry though his music often flies under the radar.

I love both incarnations of OutKast as a team and running solo. There’s a reason why the dual disc Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has been their most successful album with Big Boi & Andre each contributing a solo disc to the project. They’re both immensely talented on their own but still perfectly complement one another as a duo. Unfortunately I feel that OutKast’s success has well overshadowed the solid contributions Big Boi has made to the game since the release of Idlewild.

Though it often occurs, I hate comparing the lyrical skills and musical acuity of Andre 3000 to Big Boi. They’re playing the same game but are in different positions equipped with a varying set of skills. Andre 3000 brings an eclectic style with deep lyrical content that’s clever and infused with heart while Big Boi is more a traditional street-talker trending more on surface level topics but is quick to bring social/moral substance to a verse with a dexterous delivery few in hip hop history can match.

Part of Big Boi’s lack of notoriety  may be due to his break from Jive Records which refused to release or promote his first solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty. They felt his artistic style was not well suited for mainstream radio play and pressured him and Andre to get back together as OutKast. Heavy rotation on the radio does not a good song make as Big Boi was more concerned with producing quality work while maintaining artistic freedom. But enough with the history lesson…

For those of you who have been sleeping on Big Boi’s solo career consider this a belated Christmas gift wrapped in certified platinum. Get ready because we’re about to combine a handful of songs from Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty and Big Boi’s second album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors to create a five mics worthy hip hop classic…

Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty

  1. Daddy Fat Sax
  2. Turn Me On (ft. Sleepy Brown and Joi)
  3. Tangerine (ft. T.I. and Khujo Goodie)
  4. Shutterbugg (ft. Cutty)
  5. Follow Us (ft. Vonnegutt)
  6. General Patton (ft. Big Rube)
  7. Shine Blockas (ft. Gucci Mane)

This blended album busts onto the scene with the high energy, hard thumping Southern funk infused track Daddy Fat Sax, an homage to one of Big Boi’s plethora of aliases mentioned throughout his musical career. For the record, Southern funk has a heavy presence on the “Sir Lucious” album with tracks like Turn Me On complimented by the smooth Southern vocals of Organized Noize’s Sleepy Brown and Joi and Shutterbugg which is a song laced with the remnants of P-Funk DNA (though George Clinton does make an appearance on “Sir Lucious” it’s not on this particular song).

Never one to stray too far from musing upon sexual exploits, Tangerine is a highbrow production on a lowbrow topic with thick syrupy bass accompanied by tribal drums and a mean guitar fit for a night at Magic City. I say ‘highbrow’ because the quality of this track is not typical of your run-of-the-mill strip club song as Big Boi and T.I. deliver verses on a level most gentlemen club rappers rarely touch. General Patton (another one of those aliases mentioned earlier) is an operatic, triumphant marching theme that is as unique a production I’ve ever heard from Big Boi. An extremely creative song, General Patton includes the distinct and unmistakable voice of Big Rube who has been featured reciting spoken word poetry in each of OutKast’s albums since their first…Southernplayalisticmuzik.

The final tracks from “Sir Lucious” are a couple of personal favorites starting with the electronic stylized Follow Us which features Vonnegott from Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon Label. But the best song on the album (and best from Big Boi’s solo career) is the Gucci Mane assisted Shine Blockas. This was the only single I remember hearing on the radio maybe two or three times when this album was released back in 2010 and there’s no wonder why. It is classic Big Boi, a throwback to the efforts he made on Speakerboxxx as this track would sit perfectly alongside Ghetto Musick, Unhappy and The Way You Move. This is the Son of Chico Dusty at his best.

Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

  1. Shoes for Running (ft. B.o.B and Wavves)
  2. CPU (ft. Phantogram)
  3. The Thickets (ft. Sleepy Brown)
  4. Lines (ft. ASAP Rocky and Phantogram)
  5. She Hates Me (ft. Kid Cudi)
  6. Descending (ft. Little Dragon)

On “Vicious Lies” Big Boi plays the role of CP3 (Chris Paul) on the album as his diverse taste/ear for music shines through. Always a hallmark of OutKast, “Vicious Lies” separates itself from the Southern funk driven, “Sir Lucious” by stepping into the off-brand, hole-in-the-wall world of psychedelic indie rock. This album is as much (if not more) about setting up and allowing his guest acts to shine as it is about him expanding his creative palette.

Wavves is the West Coast indie rock group featured on the song Shoes for Running. This track reminds me of Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People because it is a lighthearted song with a breezy beach rock style that seems to contradict the slightly morbid content of its lyrics, “the end is coming, I would race ya/ but there’s no running, it will chase ya/ death will hunt you down”. B.o.B, the Decatur native, has a standout verse in which he effortlessly glides across the track with a delivery that inspires images of a surfer across sound waves (please excuse the pun).

Phantogram is another off-brand indie group that I was first introduced to through “Vicious Lies”. Though they are featured on three tracks, I’ve only included the songs CPU & Lines on this imaginary album. CPU is a smooth electronic listen with digital age stalker-ish style lyrics “it’s you that’s on my computer screen because it’s you that’s on my mind” (lesson of the day…a smooth melody makes any disturbing behavior seem copacetic). But Lines is the standout track featuring Phantogram and highlighted by the lyrical acrobatics of ASAP Rocky’s opening verse.

As I’ve mentioned, Big Boi is constantly dishing out assists on this album as there’s something to be said of the choices he makes on which artist to collaborate with on each track. He rarely falters on passing the mic but with The Thickets Big Boi reasserts his own standing skills and offers no question on who is the Godfather of this album. The Thickets brings us back to Big Boi’s soulful Southern funk roots with an intoxicating hook poured forth from Sleepy Brown’s vocals.

Never one to shy away from the subject of rocky romances (see Ms.Jackson & The Rooster) She Hates Me is a collab with the ClevelanderKid Cudi where Big Boi reflects on love found, lost and relays the determination he has to make the relationship work again. And as always, Kid Cudi somehow makes “lyrical talking” (not really rapping though not necessarily singing) work in only a way his distinct voice production can. This composited five mic classic is brought to a close with the calming song Descending, a track in which Big Boi reminisces on his father with the Swedish group Little Dragon accompanying him on this emotional trek down memory lane.

And if, by any chance, you still feel an emptiness due to the absence of Big Boi’ most trusted and famous partner in crime then you can place the song Royal Flush (ft. Andre 3000) on the back end of this album as a bonus track.

Well that’s it, I hope you appreciate the track list and it convinces you to take a second look at Big Boi’s solo work (if you’re not already familiar). Also you should check out the concept behind the story Soul of Suw which was, non-coincidentally, inspired by the music of OutKast. Head to the story section to learn more about the various characters, places and ideas concerning the seven book series.

My next post will be The True Legacy of MLK which should be featured as the Flavor of the Week in a couple of weeks. Please sign up for the mailing list and join our facebook group for updates and notification on the blog and recent post.

Also, the new illustrated book Mythology of Suw is finally available!!! Discover more about the mythical world of music and dance in a land infused with the spiritual power of sound. This is a place where souls have arisen with the ability to harness and guide music’s essence to create worlds, inspire movements and liberate themselves from the oppressive rule of the original spiritual beings…supremiums.

2 Comments

    1. Soul of Suw

      Really, where have you read that? I haven’t seen much info about 3K’s contribution to Big Boi’s solo projects though Big Boi has had a lot of production contributors throughout his solo albums.

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