Big Boi has never been a particularly imposing rapper. He just hasn't been.
Now wait a second, fuckers. Before you get all "No, he's phenomenal!" just out of sheer contrarian instinct, think on it for a second. When have you ever heard his name mentioned in any Greatest Rapper Ever discussions? You haven't. He's not even mentioned in the Greatest Southern Rapper Ever discussion.
Do this: Google "Best Southern Rappers" and try to find a list out there that has him somewhere in the top five. You won't be able to. Because you can't. Because he isn't. So there.
Anyway, he's just never been a great rapper. Good, yes. Great, no. Fun, yes. Interesting, no. He's always seemed overshadowed by Andre 3000's persona, the boring straight man, the predictable one, a formerly chubby kid with weird hair just trying to keep up.
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Even after OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below became one of the best-selling rap albums of all time, people still kind of ignored him. But it turns out, everybody was wrong. Big Boi is fabulous. And his recently released debut solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, proves it. It is, without question, the best rap album of the year thus far. And unless Kanye's is as good as Kanye thinks it is, it'll probably remain at the top spot.
To the bullets:
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- The most impressive thing about this album is that it completely revolutionizes the contemporary Southern-rap sound. It's not a Southern rap album that sounds like an East Coast rap album, nor is it an East Coast rap album that sounds like a Southern rap album. This is a completely new take on the traditional Southern rap sound. It's slow and fast, wonky and flimsy, lyrical and hook-driven. Have you ever had a dream where you were you, and you knew you were you, but you had a whole different face? That's what this is like. And you can't overstate how refreshing that is.
- The features on Left Foot are excellent. Even Yelawolf. And he's the worst. Actually, he's not all bad. If you'll remember, he showed up well singing the chorus on Thugga's "I Run" track from Boss of All Bosses. But then Thugga released the remix featuring Cham and Z-Ro that was ten times better than the original and everyone forgot that Yela was even on the song.
- "General Patton," a monster track laid at the feet of a Georg Solti opera performance, is like a kick in the chest. There's no telling how many rappers are trying to find the instrumental version of it online right now so they can add it to their really awesome mixtape.
- Lots of people are going to write about how maybe it was Big Boi, not Andre, that was pulling the strings behind Outkast's curtain all of this time. That's a completely acceptable argument to make now.
- Regarding Young Jeezy's verse on "Amazing" from Kanye's 808's album, hip-hop writer Jeff Weiss wrote something along the lines of, "Kanye knows how to utilize Young Jeezy's talents better than Young Jeezy does." That's exactly what happens here with Gucci Mane on the cakey "Shine Blockas." Gucci is mostly insufferable, but he sounds all the amount of brilliant he thinks himself to be. He should high five Big Boi every time he sees him for the rest of his life.
- There are a couple of skits on the album, and they come at the tail end of songs rather than standing alone as their own tracks. This sucks because you have to have them on your iPod. There's no way to delete them without deleting the song they're attached to. #aaarghh
- One of those skits, though, is brilliant. It's about David Blaine. We'll let you listen to it.
- The range of sound really is astounding. Although he did begin recording this back in 2004. Crazy thought: Maybe every rapper should take the time to let their albums gestate creatively for a bit, rather than kicking them out thrice a year?
- The chorus on "Fo Yo Sorrows" (delivered by Sam Chris) is so incredibly creepy that it goes right past uncreepy back to creepy again. It's a rubbery, rhythmic, unforgettable coo. You know what it feels like? It feels like that AT&T commercial where they use a bit of that song from Willy Wonka. It's just like that. Except he's talking about blow jobs and pot.