Review : Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
PitchforkEvery great rap group has one MC who is-- possibly unfairly-- perceived to be slightly lesser than the other. DMC. Parrish Smith. Malice. Pimp C, at least up until he died. Big Boi's been on that list ever since André Benjamin started rocking pith helmets and neckerchiefs. Big Boi's not underrated, exactly; everyone who knows rap knows he's a great rapper. It's more that he's taken for granted. Virtually every OutKast review of the past decade and a half has posited Big Boi as the earthy, street-level anchor to André's spaced-out visionary, the guy responsible for securing the group's cred when André was trying to invent new colors. Expect Sir Lucious Left Foot to change those conversations. We haven't heard a major-label rap album this inventive, bizarre, joyous, and masterful in a long time, and it's almost impossible to imagine André putting out a solo album this strong anytime soon.
At this point, Big Boi has every right to indulge in the bitter-old-man invective that's tempted so many other rappers of his generation. Even though he's half of one of the most successful groups ever, Big Boi has had to go through years of release-date delays and label drama (some of the topical lyrics here sound like they were written years ago), until he finally left longtime home Jive just so he could release a damn solo album already. Label machinations kept André's voice from even appearing on Sir Lucious Left Foot-- heartbreaking when you think about André's jaw-dropping display on the early advance single "Royal Flush". But instead of letting these setbacks infect his music, Big Boi's made an album that explodes with ideas at every turn, that glides and twitches and mutates with delirious urgency.
Musically, the album drips with 1980s synth-funk signifiers. The keyboards glimmer as they roam, and talkboxes mutter and blurt. But these tracks aren't the stoned miasmas that someone like Dâm-Funk cranks out. Instead, they're itchy and fleet-footed. New melodic elements flit in and out of tracks just as you start to notice them, and there's a lot going on at any given moment. Consider, for example, album closer "Back Up Plan". The track, from old comrades Organized Noize, finds room for cheerleader chants, disembodied grunts, a weird little synth whistle, processed funk guitar, orchestra hits, frantic scratching, a lowdown wobbling bassline, and probably some other stuff that I'm missing-- and this is one of the most laid-back songs on the entire album....full text
GuardianEven the most demanding record label executive might be impressed by the diversity of the promotional campaign Antwan "Big Boi" Patton, half of OutKast, has undertaken for what is officially his debut solo album. At one extreme, he was interviewed by hipster music website Pitchfork, whom he favoured with a colourful explanation of his love of the 1970s' biggest country and western artist. "To get your dick sucked to a Conway Twitty record," he averred, "really is something else." At the other extreme, he recently appeared on Martha Stewart's winsome daytime cookery show, where he introduced his mum, made a salad with grilled lobster and decorously avoided the topic of Conway Twitty's enhancing effect on the act of fellatio.
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Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
The problem is that those two promotional appearances were two years apart, testament to Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son Of Chico Dusty's agonising gestation. Patton began recording it in 2004, a year after the release of OutKast's 15m-selling double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Speakerboxxx was Patton's de facto solo debut). Its release was announced in 2007. A year later, the Royal Flush single appeared, while another track, the Obama-supporting Sumthin's Gotta Give, appeared on the web. Last year, another two tracks were leaked to the internet, seemingly by Patton himself. OutKast's label, Jive, was now refusing to release the album, claiming it was too uncommercial. It furthermore suggested he record something more in the style of Lil' Wayne's hit single Lollipop. "That's fucking blasphemy!" spluttered Patton, as indeed you might, had you sold 25m albums worldwide and were now being subjected to a lecture on how to sell millions of albums worldwide. Jive subsequently released him from his contract, but then refused to allow his new label to include on the album any of the songs he'd recorded featuring his partner in OutKast, André "3000" Benjamin.
And so, Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty finally arrives, stripped of any new OutKast tracks, all of its preceding singles also absent. Listening to what remains, you can occasionally see what his former paymasters might have been driving at, particularly given that Patton seemed to think the song General Patton was potential single material. It features Patton and the splendidly named Big Rube rapping over a cacophony of massed choirs and orchestras – apparently sampled from a Georg Solti performance – as well as honking synthesisers and brass. There might well be some semblance of a tune lurking somewhere, but locating it would take as long as Sir Lucious Left Foot did to release. More often, however, you're left wondering what on earth they were thinking. It's not merely that virtually everything else comes packing the kind of chorus that Radio 1 playlist compilers do their nut for, but that the album is so obviously of a piece with Patton's back catalogue. It offers a kaleidoscopic range of musical influences, some familiar – the Hendrix-influenced guitar with which the album opens, the massed Funkadelicesque vocals and electro-influenced rhythmic thud – others straining at the boundaries of what you might expect: The Train Part 2 sets Philly soul horns over twinkling abstract techno; Tangerine opens with the low growl of an early-90s grunge track, before improbably bursting into something that most closely resembles a P-Funk take on the mid-60s Batman theme. The lyrics, meanwhile, come in a breathless blur of druggy non-sequiturs and pop-culture references, some of it frankly baffling. Listeners can just about work out what the sexual practice known as The David Blaine is – although the question of why anyone in their right mind would want to do it hangs heavy over the lyric – but what of Turns Me On's desire for a woman "with the peaches of an angel and the bottom of a horse"? That sounds like he's after a lady with two bums, which seems less like the stuff of lubricious dreams than something off Channel 4's Bodyshock series....full text
BlogsTogether with André Benjamin, Antwan 'Big Boi' Patton is Outkast - the uncommonly gifted Atlanta rap duo. Working separately, they each contributed an album to their greatest success to date, the 11 million-selling 2003 double CD Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Now we have Big Boi's first official solo album and it shows the many contrasting, contradictory and musically abundant sides of Patton's personality. It's also a brilliant addition to the Outkast 'Dirty South' treasure chest.
Named for his newly-matured self - fans of BB's earthier side shouldn't take this claim too literally - and subtitled for his late father, Sir Luscious shows a man who has both a strong standing in the musical past while forging ahead as a sonic warrior of the future.
Patton's myriad influences team together in glorious fashion and are engaging, intriguing and thrilling at every turn. Adventurous departures and imaginative raps are commonplace, while a host of collaborators, including Mary J Blige and Atlanta homeboys The Goodie Mob, help keep the action alive....full text
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