Review Summary: Sir Lucious Left Foot is a brilliant record according to the classic barometers, but you really don’t have to give a shit about classic barometers to understand that it's one of, if not THE hip-hop record of 2010.
In a Jaga Jazzist review I wrote recently, I claimed that their latest record, One-Armed Bandit
, was “a smart album for smart people.” Now, I’ll be honest with you, when I wrote that, I didn’t exactly know what I meant per se
, at least in terms of saying something I could adequately articulate (which I realize is a ridiculously horrible thing for a reviewer to say but bear with me; the point’s in sight). But oddly, after listening to Big Boi’s first solo offering, Sir Lucious Left Foot
, I now understand what the fuck
I was going for.
See, the thing with One-Armed Bandit
is that it’s comprised of ornately detailed compositions that sound as though they required an immense amount of thought and effort to create (read: smart album). To truly appreciate it, I figured, a listener must give as good as he/she gets, must devote the time to really think
about the record to admire just how much cool shi
t is going on (which in turn requires a knowledge of just what exactly is
going on (read: smart people)). I understand this all sounds like haughty, self-congratulatory bullshi
t because I like a difficult record
, but that’s not really what I’m going for. My point is that I was able to come to that realization because I came to this one:
Sir Lucious Left Foot
is a smart album for stupid people.
Now please please please don’t be offended if you like this album (as I’m sure maybe 95% of you do (or will)), because here’s what I mean by that. Sir Lucious Left Foot
is a brilliant record according to the classic barometers- the beats are killer, the verses sick, the pacing perfect, and the skits are actually pretty funny (!)- but the thing is that you really don’t have to give a shit
about any of that to understand that this is one of, if not the
top hip-hop album of 2010.
Because here’s the thing: like most great pop albums of our time, Sir Lucious Left Foot
goes down so smoothly you’d be forgiven for not noticing just how mind-blowingly good it is. These are huge
songs, in the way big pop albums should be huge- that is, colossal, not demanding your undivided attention so much as just sort of having it. Like, take this for example: There’s a stretch between “Shutterbug” and “Tangerine” where Boi causes eight million orgasms at the same time by just being catchy
. “Boi, stop,” indeed. Lucious
thrives off its catchiness, using stellar guest spots from people as b-list as Big Boi (people of the “shi
t is that Jaime Foxx!""” variety) to give the choruses that make Big Boi sound vital again, and if Sir Lucious
does anything, it proves that Boi needs
to be vital in the game he helped invent, the game that’s sort of wandered aimlessly when its premier dynamic duo went Idlewild. Boi is simply getting back on track.
I understand that calling a record featuring upwards of eleven different slang words for ejaculate “the solution” to problems with most southern hip-hop doesn’t exactly sound legitimate, but honestly, tracks like “Tangerine” don’t come around that often. Neither do tracks like “Fo Yo Sorrows.” These are tracks about blow jobs that tend to transcend the fact that they’re about blow jobs, and, I mean, who the fuck
writes that kind of shi
t" Of course, interspersing them with the tracks of more serious nature (which, paradoxically, sound less authentic than “Tangerine” or the overtly-but-undeniably inspiring “Shine Blockas”) arouses suspicion that there might actually be something else going on under the line “with a fistful of your girlfriend’s hair, she’ll blow one tonight for your sorrows,” but this is the story with Sir Lucious
: the imagery is arousing and the hooks are inescapable, and that’s all window dressing for the fact that this is record is a masterpiece. Sure, it doesn’t sound
like one, at least not in the conventional, “man-Janelle-Monae-is-so-ambitious
” sense. But I suspect that this record has more depth than anything else that could reasonably be classified as “mainstream hip hop” right now. Like, it’s no accident “Tangerine” is classified the “American Dream,” right" Or that the Roots are involved on this record" Or that Janelle guests on one of the smoothest tunes of the disc" Lucious
masquerades as a silly pop album when in reality, this is the work of a collection of hit makers combining to create ornately composed, calculated silly pop music for mass consumption- “mass consumption” meaning, in this case, not just airplay but global domination
Which brings me back to my original point: Outkast are (were") amazing because their singles landed on two separate planes. There is, of course, the boyish charm that makes singles like “Ms. Jackson” edible to millions of people, and that purposely lands first. But then there is the undercurrent of tension, of depth, of “oh shit
, this is actually fuck
" that makes Outkast universally respected (and why all white people only “get” “Hey Ya” after they hear an acoustic cover of it). Big Boi simply continues to rock on this otha level
, and that is why Sir Lucious
stands up next to any
Outkast record. It’s an album that works to rule the world, and it could. It really could. Because it is a record that rewards listening with a critical ear nearly as much it rewards blasting out your stereo while you scream “Baby baby! Yaw In Mah Siiiiistem
!” As in, it doesn’t require much thought. It doesn’t require attention. Depending on the listener, it could sit on mixes next to Rising Down
as easily as it could sit next to The Fame
. Most of you guys will probably place it by the former, but enjoy it- purely, without elitism- as much as the latter. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is an album for anyone. And that is damn impressive.