Nearly every OutKast discussion I’ve found myself in the past three or four years has ended the same, most notably when the conversation focuses on Big Boi. Without fail, too. The reasoning normally starts with “Yeah, Big Boi is nice, but…”
1. “Yeah, Big Boi is nice as hell, but I want a solo album from Andre.”
2. “Yeah, Big Boi is nice, but I want another OutKast album before Big’s solo.”
3. “Yeah, Big Boi is nice, but he’s no Three Stacks.”
We’ll settle this from jump street by drilling two very, very, very important points into the ground. First, Andre 3000 is one of the single most important artists to create music for mass consumption. As a testament to what must be Zen-like practices* and admiration for his brother-in-rhyme, Big has forever sung the praises of Three Stacks in every interview which tosses the inevitable “OutKast question” his direction. The permanent thirst for new material from RG3’s older cousin (I’m playing, I think) is a confirmation of the ability his words, delivery and cadence have meant to an entire generation who soaked up game from a guy seeing more career metamorphoses than Kobe Bryant.
Secondly, and most critical, any person with long-standing ties to Hip-Hop in its purest and most creative form yearns for another OutKast album. With Idlewild being the only commonly accepted slip up in their discography, it’s safe to say ‘Kast has brought forth classic music at a spine-tingling rate 83.3% of the time.**
Through it all, however, General Patton’s role in Hip-Hop as the visible half of ‘Kast seems to always be taken for granted; or at times pushed to the side in hopes of a dream which may never happen even as Dre offers his side of the story for his Hailey’s Comet-like sightings over the past half-decade. The fact still remains, as quiet as kept it seems, Big has proven his solo worth twice already with two brilliant offerings in Speakerboxxx and Leftfoot. And he’s done so despite backdoor label politics which perpetually seem to pigeonhole his bigger records (see “Royal Flush” and “Lookin’ At Ya”).
Two years following its release, Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son Of Chico Dusty continues to stamp itself as living proof that while rhyming alongside Andre will remain his calling card to rap immortality, opting for the solo route housed the same creativity and energy afforded on previous releases. This confidence paints itself as the exact reason why many – including us and friend of the family, Maurice Garland – expect Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors to supplant itself alongside Baby Face Killa, Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City and Life Is Good among the finest retail releases of 2012.
Make no mistake, this public service announcement of sorts isn’t directed at one person, one site or one group of fans. Instead, it’s more so a collective call to arms to appreciate and acknowledge a legend while he’s still north of the dirt. A legend who has been apart of some of the most timeless anthems our genre ever birthed. A legend who continues to spawn dope music. A legend who wants to release music which may or may not serve as the soundtrack to a particular event in someone’s life. A legend who hasn’t forgotten the fact making music is still supposed to draw some sort of emotion. A legend who, for lack of any other description, still “gets it.”
The question now is will Hip-Hop ever accept what’s in front of it and push these insecurities aside. Or will Big’s solo output be unfairly toe tagged with the backhanded compliment “Yeah, but…”? As a gift/curse scenario rarely seen – gift in the sense of what Big has accomplished thus far and a curse for the exact same reason – there’s not much left to say in regards to the elephant in the room.
Big Boi’s new album, Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors, drops December 11. Act accordingly. Whatever that means.
* – How Big hasn’t snapped over people asking him about ‘Kast all these years is beyond admirable.
** – How I came to that number? Kast has, on record, six albums together. The first five – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATliens, Aquemini, Stankonia and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – were either highly exceptional or bonafide game changers. Five divided by six multiplied by 100 is 83.3. Simple math.