Outkast have always been boundary pushers both with their music and their attire, though the limelight always seems to shine on Andre 3000, thanks in no small part to the huge success of Hey Ya. But for that one track of Andre’s, Big Boi had Ghettomusick, he had The Way You Move and he had The Rooster. So when his long-awaited album finally dropped, it was always going to be huge. Nothing could quite have prepared me for just how good it is though – a fun rap album with huge beats, great guest appearances and the smiling-swagger of Big Boi firmly in the foreground.
The early appearance of long-time collaborator Sleepy Brown on Turns Me On gets proceedings going with a simple keyboard melody and backing chords before the first really huge track comes in. Normally a guest vocal from a band that seems to be some kind of Gym Class Heroes-lite group would have me reaching for the skip button, but somehow Antwan Patton makes it work with some boom bap drums and another simple melody. That’s why the beats on this record work so well, they’re not too dense, but they pack a punch and are the ultimate in sing-a-long-ability, and from Follow Us [“Before the fame I was the shit and now I’m just big, y’dig?”] the energy ramps up even further.
Shutterbug is going to be a staple hip hop club track in years to come, alongside Dead Prez’s Hip Hop, Joe Budden’s Pump It Up and anything Snoop or Dre put out in the late 90s, Scott Storch’s production is just what Big Boi needs to go in on and it’s followed by General Patton, which features fast-paced hi-hats, squashed horns and a handclap snare, the definition of a banger if ever there was one. Following that might not be easy but the Andre 3000 produced You Ain’t No DJ featuring my favourite new rapper Yelawolf [who states “Yeah you might be famous so what? I bet you can’t hitch that semi up to this tow-truck”] is just what Southern Rap should be.
There is no let up as the record nears its end either, Fo Yo Sorrows managing to bring together George Clinton and Too $hort in perfect harmony, Night Night which is the most Outkast sounding song on the record reminiscent of ‘Morris Brown’ from the Idlewild soundtrack and ending with a track featuring Gucci Mane. Big Boi has put together a record that was a long, long time in coming [and not without its problems] but was well worth the wait. Quite possibly the album of the year right here. Bangers.