Review Summary: Big Boi’s Bid for the Hip Hop Hall of Fame
Big Boi’s partner, Andre 3000, will one day see his face in the Hip Hop Hall of Fame. Andre was the metaphorical QB of the critically and commercially acclaimed 90’s hip hop-soul group Outkast. Big Boi, on the other hand, is a certain Hall of Fame candidate but a questionable inductee. Unlike Andre 3000 Big Boi alternated positions throughout his career: a versatile Tight End, a speedy WR, or an unsung-hero running back; but the bottom line is he usually complimented the legendary Andre 3000. After the commercial success of Big Boi’s first solo album: Sir Luscious Left Foot (which featured Andre 3000 on only two tracks) it seems that Big Boi’s last task for entering the hip hop hall of fame is creating another stand-out solo record, this time without any help from Andre 3000. This is Big Boi’s goal on “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors”, calling the record “a complete, full album- that’s unskippable; you need play and rewind and that’s it.”
OK. No Andre. But 16 guest appearances on an album with 14 tracks. Big Boi’s explanation for such range is “Just because I don’t like to do the same thing twice.” Those who are more tolerant of singing will appreciate these guests, but I found many of the choruses to be too corny and soft to be suitable with the raps on the verses on the songs. For example “Apple Pie” and “Raspberries”, but especially on the tracks “CPU” and “Lines”. On “Lines”, a brilliant futuristic beat and flawless rap are ruined. But what’s entirely unacceptable is on the song “CPU”: “It’s you that’s on the computer screen, because it’s you that’s on my mind” repeated countless times. This is worst than pointless, it sounds like an old ad-jingle. One devised by an out-of-touch salesman trying to appeal to younger, technologically-oriented, listeners. The R&B aspect of this album is completely hit or miss, you begin hoping another chorus like CPU doesn’t start playing again and then… *facepalm*. Yet it hits more than it misses because these choruses are only rarely enough to ruin the songs outright (IE “CPU”). The singing does eventually become much catchier with repeated listens (as do the lyrics) as Big Boi puts it “a lot of people are not gonna catch everything on the first listen; you really have to listen to what I’m saying”.
The main problem is too much of a good thing: there are so many well done electronic-beats it seems the rapping had to be limited, in not only time, but also content: favoring repetitive choruses, so that the listener’s focus is mainly the forceful beats. The secondary and only other significant flaw with this album is that it often features unoriginal topics. Among the most common themes of the album is Big Boi buying your hoe and banging her in several funny ways on the songs “The Thickets” “Objectum Sexuality” “Thom Petty” and “Raspberries”. This is done with wit and plays to Big Boi’s strengths as a chest-thumping rapper, but it’s also awkward considering he has been married for 20 years, and almost seems to be making love songs for his wife on tracks “Apple of My Eye” and “She Hates Me”. The last two tracks, on the other hand, have involved lyrics with a beautiful overall production. These two tracks are dedicated to the death of his father. Big Boi delivers a heartfelt rap here, and the piano beat (and even the singing) adequately compliments the mood in the lyrics. “Shoes for Running” captures a deep bitter-sweet style of Outkast’s, but it falls just short of their past ingenuity. No part of Big Boi’s delivery has rusted on any track on here. His rapid multi-syllable rhyming of complex lyrics is still impeccable and he knows exactly how to make lyrics flow regardless of the tempo of the beat he is using.
The guest rappers, unlike the guest singers, help make this album easier on the ears with diverse yet cohesive styles. On the song “In the A”, T.I. and Ludacris have brilliantly technical verses over a super-crunk trunk-busting beat, but their lyric’s focus is commonplace, and eventually the intensity of the production wears off slightly with repeated listens. Killer Mike is known for making more meaningful music, but he only provides a skilled swank about ‘bitches’ on the track “Thom Pettie”. The rest of the guest rapper’s skills are not quite on par with Big Boi. They do add amusement with diversity in style, but they stop the album from having extremely skilled rhyming throughout.
What’s up to each listener to decide for themselves after hearing this album is whether Big Boi is more like Adrian Peterson (a true hall-of-fame talent limited by lack of skill around him), or Larry Johnson (a scrub who was falsely perceived as great in his early years because he was on a dominant team). I think he’s closer to Adrian Peterson, but Big Boi’s claim of this album being “unskippable” can only be taken seriously to fans of R&B who find no problem in the choruses, which, to me, sound like Beethoven playing a symphony, then every minute or so into the song he lets loose a 30 second long fart that sounds like a lawnmower starting. When interviewed about this album Big Boi said “The game has become not who’s the best lyricist no more; it’s about who can make the best jams.” He thinks he can still play the new game, and he can, but I see it as the game playing him and Big Boi limiting his raw style.
Source (All quotes from):
Arnold Paul. Hip Hop PDX. “Big Boi Responds To "Dangerous Rumors" About He And Andre 3000, His Marriage And Diverse New Musical Direction” Posted December 10, 2012 at 7:00AM PST http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/interviews/id.2011/title.big-boi-responds-to-dangerous-rumors-about-he-and-andre-3000-his-marriage-and-diverse-new-musical-direction