Quick Listen: Big Boi‘s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is not good. It’s great. It reminds you why Sir Lucious Left Foot has been in the game for 20 years. Strong, eclectic, and extremely listenable from start to finish.
Top Songs: “She Hates Me”; “Lines”; “Shoes For Running”; “Tremendous Damage”
Price: $14.99 USD on iTunes
It’s hard to talk about Big Boi’s solo work (even though Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, released today, is the artist’s second solo album) without talking, at least briefly, about from whence the 37 year-old rapper comes: Outkast. Even Big himself categorizes this album as “one-half Outkast, one whole me”, which is a perfect description for half-and-half nature of VLDR.
VLDR is a reiteration that the “other half” of Outkast can not only hold down his own on a solo album — as he did with Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty – but can also still excel on one from start to finish.
Perhaps even more than Left Foot, the album has clear echoes of early Outkast, but also makes strong, successful steps out from that sound. This old dog may have the same tricks, but those tricks are f**king awesome.
Sure, “In The A” featuring T.I. & Ludacris, is a familiar Southern rap homage (on which Big far outshines his record-mates, by the way), but there’s also “Objectum Sexuality”, “CPU”, and “Lines”, each of which was recorded with American indie-pop duo Phantogram. Beyond Phantogram, Big recruited electro-pop act, Little Dragon, all the way from Sweden for spots on ‘Thom Pettie” and “Descending”.
This eclecticism is what makes VLDR so impressive. When an album has an many features as VLaDR, the first though is that Big Boi can’t hold a full album on his own. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is an age where rap/hip-hop albums are almost required to step out from the ordinary to be successful. Big doesn’t depend too heavily on the bread and butter that got him to where he is. He dives headfirst into the genre pool and comes up soaking wet.
You name it — alternative, funk, indie, electro, and hip-hop are showcased, from the Prince-inspired “Mama Told Me” with Kelly Rowland, to the epic break-up/relationship song, “She Hates Me” on which Kid Cudi shares rhyming duties. On other tracks, Big taps hot-in-the-streets collaborators like A$AP Rocky & B.O.B. (“Lines” and “Shoes for Running”, respectively). It’s not a grab for their audiences, though; the songs are still Big Boi’s, just with fresh voices. He also brings in smaller acts, like Bosko, Little Dragon, Phantogram, Wavves, & Sleepy Brown, which speaks to both his creativity and his confidence as an artist.
While there aren’t many radio-friendly hits on this album (maybe “She Hates Me”), there’s no shortage of bona fide rap gems. Big’s signature lyricism and quick flow remain on full display all the way through; he’s still got it in a big way.
Frankly, the only thing wrong with this album is its timing. The Grammy nods have already come & gone and this album will have to wait until next year, at which point we fear it’ll be unfairly thrown to the bottom of the pile.