While the world continues to call Andre 3k one of the best rappers alive, they continue to sleep on Big Boi. We just had someone talk about this on a FROCAST and I said then that Speakerboxxx is much better than folks give credit. He’ll probably always be under the shadow of Outkast and Stacks, but that’s no fault of his own. We all know that talent is a small portion, and even smaller so today, of what it takes to be good in this game. You have to be able to construct a song as well as stay fresh without selling out to the devices of easy hits and cameos to move units. As one half of Outkast Big Boi is already one of the masters of these things and as he proved on Sir Lucious Leftfoot he’s more than capable of doing that solo. For the second time in his career, Big Boi is staring down the legendary sophomore slump. Will this be the album that makes folk say “Andre who?” or instead make them say “Andre WHEN?” Let’s find out with Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors.
Produced by Cy Fyre, Big Boi, & Chris Carmouche
Rarely will I go into intro tracks unless there is a story. There isn’t so I won’t. Let’s get to the album.
2. The Thickets
Featuring Sleepy Brown; Produced by Cy Fyre, Big Boi, & Chris Carmouche
This is easily one of my favorite 3 songs on the album. The Jodeci sample seems to add instant bias and recognition without being yet another case of someone rapping over an already established track. Big Boi is really flexing on this joint, there’s no if ands or buts about it. He’s not grandstanding about paper and cars though, he’s talking about his craft and how he stands out amongst the rest of the scene. This is a great song for him in that respect because he’s consistently an underdog when folks talk about top dogs. The magic of Sleepy singing on the hook completes this song as it rolls along quite flawlessly.
3. Apple Of My Eye
Produced by Mr. DJ
I feel like this song has a message somewhere and I’m not one of those guys that’s going to pretend I know it all just to save face. It feels like it’s saying “aye, we all have problems, you gotta focus on you and be your own biggest fan.” Then again, the sing-song hook and uptempo, pop friendly beat says I’m over-thinking it. Either way, the song is catchy and while it may alienate you early like a lot of the other songs on the album, this one will eventually win you over.
4. Objectum Sexuality
Featuring & Produced by Phantogram
Many reviews are going to compare this album to 3 Stacks music, The Roots’ Phrenology, & Common’s Electric Circus because of it’s eclectic, sonic, and funk vibe so I’ll spare you as much as possible in this review. However, this song has been done by all of them and it sounded better. When I say things like that, 9.9/10 I’m talking about the track, not the lyrics. Big Boi is a dope rapper so he’s rarely on some nonsense in that department, but this song particularly I can’t get with.
5. In The A
Featuring T.I. & Ludacris; Produced by Showdown, DJ Aries, & BlackOwned C-Bone
If we went from song 2 directly to this one, I’d be completely fine with it. This isn’t overly complex. Take 3 of ATL’s finest, give them a banger, and a mic and say “go”. You’ll get one of the newest city anthems. This shit is one of the best songs on the album. I think they did good keepin’ Mike Bigga off this because if he was here…man, we may all try and move to “The A”. It’s now added to my gym playlist (And no, I’m not just saying that because Luda shouted out STL).
6. She Hates Me
Featuring KiD CuDi; Produced by Sharif Wilson, Chris Carmouche, & Big Boi
I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s my own personal issue with this song that makes me frown, not the production nor the song itself. Everyone doesn’t need to sing and get all emo and if you don’t like when Nicki sings, then you shouldn’t like this one is how I feel. Yes, Big Boi is “singing” in that same manner and i just ain’t ready for that. The lyrics delivered are dope, but the method of delivery I could certainly do without.
I mean it started with the rose petal, ended with the stem
By the car, while I was thinking “Damn here we go again”
We used to hold hands and had such deep convo
Make a few plans like you wanna go where I’mma go?
Well let’s leave pronto and thats what we did
Then we yelled out geronimo and jumped off that bridge
Had a couple kids, you can move where I live
I know old ass niggas that’s scared to do what I did
The shoe still fits but I’m wearing out the sole
Sometimes I really feel as if I’m burning out my soul
Featuring Phantogram; Produced by Chris Carmouche & Jeron Ward
I just finished saying that if I don’t like a song by Big Boi it’s gonna be the track 9.9/10….well, meet the .1. The track is annoying AND enjoyable at the same time but lyrically, it’s some sort of dark trippy song about internet porn, obsession, and hopelessness. Song 7 theory doesn’t work on this one.
8. Thom Pettie
Featuring Little Dragon & Killer Mike; Produced by Chris Carmouche, & Big Boi
“Thom Pettie that hoe, free fallin’ we all fall down” damn, that’s dope to me and is part of the hook on the song. This syrupy track that Big Boi helped produced is one that gets by mostly on the shoulders of dope lyrics and delivery. I love the writing here and would love to hear an alternate version. Killer Mike laces this one with the singular best feature on the album:
Intercontinental, all cause a nigga push a pencil
That’s an S550, not a rental
Bitch, I don’t even ride Lincoln Continentals
In the rear seat is a fat black nigga with a smile like Denzel
Pretty model bitch with me moving bout as graceful as a gazelle
Skinny as a pencil, foreign like a pretzel
Hit her with the XL
Just in case this funky ass bitch was doing Intel
I’mma give her news she can go tell
Snitchin’ ass bitches get evicted, no bus fair
Grown ass women ride a Bentley that’s so clear
I’m so player, SpottieOttieDopaliscious
Mama phony but I swear to God the pussy dope and she delicious
One time for my wife and my mistress, gone
9. Mama Told Me
Featuring Kelly Rowland; Produced by Royal Flush, Chris Carmouche, & Big Boi
The Sarge, B-Easy, was telling me that this song was originally featuring Little Dragon as well as a few others on the album. I tried to get into Little Dragon when I first heard about them but it’s lost on me. This time around, I can get with the nostalgic vibe of the track and hook. It sounds like Big Boi is rapping over a 80’s pop song or crafting a song for a movie montage of some sort. This song just feels just as good as the self affirming messages and lyrics it provides.
Featuring A$AP Rocky & Phantogram; Produced by Organized Noize, Chris Carmouche, & Big Boi
I’m not a fan of A$AP normally; however, the backdrop and production this album has provided up to this point makes his vocals welcome. As the track turns at the hook and gives Phantogram room to sing her haunting part, it all still seems to hold together nicely. I’d say that this is one of the biggest comeback songs on the album for me. The first few times I listened, I skipped about halfway through. I stayed the course and it’s not that bad at all. If it would have been paired with song 2 and 5 so far, we’d be off to a totally different sounding Hip Hop project. As it were, it still fits on this album thus far which has proven to be unpredictable and exploratory.
11. Shoes For Running
Featuring. B.o.B. & Wavves; Produced by John Hill & Nathan Williams
I hate this track enough that I KNOW that lyrics and message here are dope but I don’t care. I abhor this track, the kids singing on the hook, and the placement on this album. If there was ever a candidate for a bonus track, this is it. The deluxe version features 3 other songs that could go here MUCH better than this…or just leave this off any version of the album. I hate it, SKIP (And sadly I know that someone will pick this song up for a commercial).
Featuing Mouche & Scar; Produced by Arthur McArthur
This song was an instant repeat. The previous song is honestly where I gave up on this album at least twice. I really hate that song, but once I made it to this song, I was sold. I even listened through this album the way it will remain on my phone, without the previous track, and I still love this one all the same. Don’t study this one too hard, they ain’t sayin’ shit forreal, and I’d imagine that they got the track, hit the studio, and just vibed out with no plan. That’s pretty much confirmed at the end when Big Boi celebrates the song and says, “…iiiih, ahhh, iddasay…you’d swear we was sayin’ sum’n”. On this song that is over 3 mins of music, you probably get about 1 minute of actual coherent lyrics and the rest is just vibin’ music. The only reference to the title is “I heard she taste like raspberries man, I thought you should know”. *kanye shrugs* This works, so who cares.
13. Tremendous Damage
Featuring Bosko; Produced by Chris Carmouche, Bosko
I wouldn’t be shocked to see this be the next single from this album. Big Boi is flat out singing yet again. This was another slow burn song (Song that got better with each listen) because I’m just reluctant to accept Big Boi getting his Phonte on. That said, it’s honestly a good song. It’s very introspective and open and I promise if that was Bruno Mars on the hook, it’s be the number one song in the country. Not that Bosko is bad, but America loves Bruno. Check the hook:
Sometimes I wonder how I get over
The weight of everything is tearing up my sober
Shit is heavy like the world on my shoulder
People telling me be strong like a soldier
But I suffer tremendous damage
Just make it fade away
Just let it fade away
Just make it fade away
I suffer tremendous damage
Featuring Little Dragon; Produced by Andramadon, Gary Fly, & Chris Carmouche
….this song will put you to sleep, guess that’s why it’s at the end of the album. It sounds like a really long version of “Take Off Your Cool” (It may even be the same chords just slowed down). However, where Norah came in and added a bit of the raspy soul, here we just get some more airy singing and music.
15. Higher Res (Bonus Track)
Featuring Jai Paul & Little Dragon; Produced by Jai Paul
Bonus song but I ain’t going the extra mile here. I told you I wasn’t here for Little Dragon; that hasn’t changed. This song sucks, SKIP.#OontzOontzMusic
16. Gossip (Bonus Track)
Faturing. UGK & Big K.R.I.T.; Produced by Organized Noize, Chris Carmouche, & Big Boi
This song is another banger added to my workout playlist. Everyone is on top of their game on this dope track and it deserves much more shine than it will get as a bonus track. It’s bounce music, feels like Speakerboxx and is the unsung star of the album being hidden on the deluxe copy at the end. You can get both versions in .mp3 form from Amazon for $5.99 so you may as well pay the same and get this song.
17. She Said OK (Bonus Track)
Featuring Theophilus London & Tre Luce; Produced by Chris Carmouche & Tre Luce
I’m sure he didn’t name this “Let Me See Ya’ Tittays” because Target ain’t gonna clear that. If you don’t mind playing a funk style song where you’ll hear “Let me see ya tittays, let me see ya pussay…major dick blowin (pause)…hairy bush…” at various times then this is for you. Maybe if you smokin’ one and you about to get it in, but outside of that, this one is a bit much for me. Shout out to the Blue Flame though, I’m sure Lavender or some other stripper name is already working a routine to this one…and honestly, that’s the only place this song is acceptable.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews giving this high marks and only one or two giving it an unfavorable grade. The statement that stuck out to me was “this album has all the hallmarks of a failure but people don’t want to mark it as one because it’s Big Boi”. I can’t even argue with that. I made a comparison to Nicki Minaj earlier in that if we’re only evaluating the tracks, this album is no more Hip Hop than her last two efforts and to be honest, it’s probably less based on the tracks alone. Big Boi even goes off into singing…much like others have done. My issue with this album is that I read that when Big Boi played the tracks for Stacks (Who isn’t even on the album) he told Big Boi that the music sounded too old school. He then introduced Big Boi to Little Dragon and well, there you go. So the idea that a lot of this sounds like Andre music is valid, because it appears that a good portion of it would be Andre music. Keeping it all the way funky, nobody has a trademark on this style of music, but there are acts and albums we associate with this sort of eclectic and electric sound. In those acts and albums, some still manage to do it better than others and no matter your stance, you’ll get criticism for either liking it because it’s different and you just wanna be different or you’ll be a hater since you don’t like it because it’s not like his other projects.
Well, I’m probably going to be the latter to most folks. I gave this a lot of time to breathe. My first 4 or 5 spins, this was about to be a terrible failure. It took me that many spins to really open up to the musical choices on these songs and being comfortable with Big Boi on this kind of music. It’s obvious that he’s exploring on this album, but I realized that a good bit of these songs are just not good and the structure of the album is not really eclectic but more just inconsistent. If my option was to only take songs that I’d never skip, I’d only have about 5 songs and that’s if you include the bonus in my selections. The rest are either songs I will never listen to or will play in the right setting and mood only. I hate to hear Big Boi abandon dope rhymes on beats that just don’t fit with them just as much as I don’t want to hear #OontzOontz music all in my Hip-Hop. Big Boy will remain one of my favorites and whenever he drops an album I’ll be on it. I appreciate and respect some of the risks he took here but I think I’d be telling Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors if I called this any other way.