Even though Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty marks the first time Big Boi has released an album under his own moniker, the supposed debutant comes into this project with nothing left to prove. He’s already been crowned Hip-Hop royalty as one half of the greatest duo in the movement’s history. The ease that comes with assumed greatness shows. Freed from any burden of proof, Daddy Fat Sacks delivers a collection of well-crafted, rump-shaking Hip-Hop jams that honor his legacy as a Southern original.
Many of the best tracks have been in people’s headphones for months, as so often happens in these days of record label stratagem and Rapidshare (witness “Shine Blockas” place on many Best of 2009 lists.) Still, “Shutterbug’s” machine-gun bump and “For Your Sorrows,” acid rock with xylophones remain album centerpieces. The aforementioned “Shine Blockas” still sounds fresh behind Big Boi’s leadership and Gucci Mane’s guttural drawl, its best-of status confirmed by a substantial shelf life.
The rest of the album cements just as hard as these tracks. As expected, Big Boi has collected the finest composers of Cadillac music to play in his court. Center stage are old partners in crime Organized Noize, providing the album with its sonic sprit. The melancholic harmonies of Sleepy Brown anchor the tweety rhythms of “Turns Me On,” while closer “Back Up Plan,” provides the proper bass lines for Big Boi to survey the club for third and fourth stringers. Big’s part of the process too—his staccato voice can meld with any beat structure, harmonizing perfectly with thick horn and bass lines.
Although an accomplished lyricist, the main flaw keeping Sir Lucious Left Foot from reaching higher plateaus is a lack of notable quotables. That’s not to say Big ain’t got shit to say or lost any fire as there are examples of the contrary. “You Ain’t No DJ,” finds an angry Antwan dismissing pretenders to the throne with more than a little help from Yelawolf. And the mature “The Train Pt. 2” shows an understanding of Hip-Hop’s roots while taking shots at unnamed Boss rap wannabes: “Now these brothers got these cameras deep in each and every state while/each and every rapper claims to be the heavyweight/Cause he mention cocai-ina in bout everything he make/And them wonder why the people trying to pin him with that case/Cause his blow Dixie crystal pistol play was just for play: fake.”
Mostly though, Big’s lyrical focus is on the good life of Sir Lucious Left Foot. In some sense, Big’s proving to the Southern generation he helped nurture that he can beat them at their own game. He comfortably trades rhymes with T.I. on “Tangerine” and provides some grit on the delightful Janelle Monáe duet “Be Still.” If he doesn’t eclipse the younger generation, he at least proves the old dog can still run with the pups.
Ultimately, in trying to please no one but himself, Big Boi’s created an album that will please everyone. Old school Outkast fans will appreciate the evolution of the Dungeon Family sound, even as they pine for just one measly André 3000 verse. And newcomers will appreciate the broad appeal of the album’s central themes, Big’s incomparable flow and a tight 15 tracks that don’t ask them to do much summertime thinking. The legend of Sir Lucious Left Foot lives on. Add another jewel to the crown.