“You change the music, you change the world.”
Daddy Fat Saxxx. Billy Ocean. Hot Tub Tony. Whatever persona he chooses, Big Boi will always deliver the best music he can. For him, artistry doesn’t revolve around dollar signs, sales or even recognition. Instead, the quote above sums his etiquette up perfectly. So, when he was crafting his second solo album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, the only intent was to make a timeless record that came from his soul and impacted listeners.
During our October trip to ATL for A3C, Big showed off his giving personality as he invited the TSS Crew out to Stankonia Studios for a sneak peak of his follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. After Big’s engineer and right-hand man Chris Carmouche queued up the session and immediately crashed on the main room’s leather couch, we sat in Big’s studio B for over an hour, getting an exclusive sneak-peak at the highly-anticipated LP. Oh and by “we,” the room consisted BEWARE, Raj, Big Boi and Big’s uncle/bartender Darnell, who has a hell of a drawl and has been in the fold since the LA Reid days. There were no publicists or bodyguards. No one was present except for a bunch of music-lovers and a couple bottles of top shelf spirits.
After dimming the lights and cranking the stereo system that’s produced worldwide classics, the music-oriented Outkast member set the ideal mood and dove into his second solo album. At the time of the listening, a few songs were still unfinished. Therefore, the final product will be slightly different than what we heard. However, believe us when we say that the bulk of what we heard was not only on par with his last project but sonically enhanced and nearly ready for the December release date. To get a sample of what to expect before the album hits shelves, here’s TSS Crew’s exclusive album preview.
1. “Intro” – Kicking off with spacey pads and eerie voices, this brief but formal introduction features military drums and serves as merely a sliver of what to expect thereafter.
2. “Feelin’ Alright” – Atop a supersize soundscape, Daddy Fat Saxxx uses his “Anita Baker wine flow” to reintroduce himself to listeners of all ages. At one point, he even suggests that youngbloods “Shazaam or Google the Dungeon Family,” rightfully gloating on the clout his crew have in hip-hop, as he rides this bass-heavy banger just as well as he did 20 years ago.
3. “Apple In My Eye” – An uptempo track that furthers the album’s musical vibe, taking a ‘little girl lost’ approach lyrically that immediately grabs your attention and culminates into an immaculate third verse breakdown – a trend which carries through the entire project.
4. “Objectum Sexuality” – This massive track had a really nice female vocalist complementing the extraordinary synths along with a single violin strike that justified the typical line, “Rub my stick on yo chick like a violin.” Hey now.
5. “In The A” Feat. Ludacris & T.I. – This guaranteed 2013-2014 anthem is Vicious Lies… at it’s most menacing. Featuring former foes TIP and Ludacris spewing lava with Big over a vocal sample of “Shutterbug” for the hook, this was definitely made to keep a few people in check. At one point, Luda admits “some of y’all aggins can out trap me, but you’ll never outrap me” while General Patton confidently claims to be “better than anybody in yo’ top ten.” We’re not arguing.
6. “She Hates Me” Feat. Kid Cudi – A stark contrast to the last cut – which almost signifies Big got the animosity out of his system – this exposing serenade finds the Outkast rapper perfectly paired with The Man On The Moon for an apology of sorts to the female in his life. The beat is immediately eclectic, led by a heavy kick and stutter pads, with Cudi leading the way on the guitar-based outro.
7. “CPU” – A personal favorite, this biting banger surrounds listeners in synth-based steppers’ funk, delivering computer love even Roger would’ve approved of. The outro on here is another that has been immaculately orchestrated to maximize the listeners’ experience, featuring enough digital delights to leave you in a trance.
8. A$AP Rocky Interlude – Carrying on the light-hearted theme from the last track, this brief but memorable skit features the purple-puffing Harlem MC screwed up, repeating “Tom Petty that hoe…Freefallin.” A phrase sure to make it’s way into the rap vernacular, Big made a point to throw out a sidebar saying that this may even turn into a full song down the line.
9. “Mama Told Me” Feat. Kelly Rowland – Hopefully this throwback track from Big and his in-house production team The Flush had you pop-locking all throughout your daily routine already. The track is a unanimous hit and the video is in the works.
10. “Lines” Feat. A$AP Rocky & Phantogram – The recently released second single, this track came about after a chance interaction at the radio station by Big and the A$AP Mob leader, which led to a studio session at Stankonia. The gritty outcome is produced by Organized Noize and carried by a digital arpeggio-melody and low-fi bass, with stylish verses from both rappers that reach beyond what’d you might expect (“It’s the art of storytelling and that’s why I’m telling mine.” – A$AP). The depth is furthered by Phantogram on the hook, then mixed with Rocky’s spot-on side-hook of screw, which contrast and complicate each other nicely.
11. “Shoes For Runnin” Feat. B.o.B – Carrying the universal vibe of the last track, this whistle-based ditty is different to say the least. A grown record with a positive vibe, the record carries somewhat of an indie rock feel, but shines bright when Big Boi turns his flow into overdrive and Bobby Ray outros the track over a steady hand-clap that makes you want to stand and cheer. A big record, to say the least.
12. “Raspberries” – This is apparently Andre 3000’s preferred selection (and Raj’s too) on the LP and it’s obvious why. Featuring producer Arthur McArthur’s Prince-like electro-funk and heavy snare, this is a promiscuous stripper-themed song that finds Daddy Fat Saxxx going back and forth with a curious vocalist, via an almost indistinguishable delivery that’s so unique you wonder if they’re saying anything at all. Oh, and apparently Dre has this track in his possession, in case his pen in feeling frisky. Keep your fingers crossed.
12. Interlude – A quick break between tracks, this was an 808-heavy singing-based flash of brightness, that didn’t have raps and led into the album’s conclusion.
13. “Tremendous Damage” – The final rap song on Vicious Lies and rightfully so, this piano-laden gospel is a heart-touching track that finds Big speaking on each of the ills that plague his brain, suggesting “shit is heavy like the world on my shoulders.” Not only an appropriate album outro for Big lyrically, but another diverse addition to his already stacked catalogue.
14. Outro – Rounding out the LP by picking up where the intro begun, the final track of Vicious Lies… ties together the overall theme of simply being able to put together a complete project that doesn’t compromise in sound or mind. At one point, a vocalist points out “If you don’t know by now, you never will,” which is probably an accurate statement.
After almost twenty years in the game, Big Boi’s audience is getting older. And, even though they undoubtedly always support every Outkast-associated release, our current single-oriented culture may or may not appreciate the type of intricate input that goes into an album like Big Boi has created here with his second solo effort.
Yet, the beat goes on for Big as he clearly continues cranking out timeless material for the simple love of the craft. This fact was not only clear by simply listening to the layers of dedication this project emulates, or the moment when our multi-millionaire host made a point to put a manual fade-out on our intimate studio session himself – but the sheer fact he’s still so immersed in the music after already altering the course of the entire genre numerous times over. Yet, even with nothing left to accomplish, Daddy Fat Saxxx still shows no sign of slowing down and continues churning out quality material for the masses.
To support Big Boi’s decades of dedication to pleasing your ears, make sure to follow him on Twitter @BigBoi and cop Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors when it hits shelves for the holidays on December 11.