Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot … The Son Of Chico Dusty
“Damn… and that wasn’t nothing but the intro,” says Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, one half of hip hop super group Outkast, at the end of Feel Me, the first track on the 15-track Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. It’s as if he knows the aces he has hidden up his sleeves are now all about work in his favour. Sir Lucious Left Foot: the Son of Chico Dusty is Big Boi’s first solo debut since Speakerboxxx/The Love Below sold some over 14 million albums worldwide, here Big Boi pulls out all the stops or, maybe more fittingly, dismantles the brakes on the roller car. The album shoots off from the outset but never feels as if it’s running out of steam: where it slows it is natural, and for effect, as a build up to peak points, and where it falls off into a mad mix of musical forms, it is a rush not unlike a rollercoaster ride – purposefully dangerous but so, so exciting.
Big Boi has not had the critical acclaim of his partner, is not as well-lauded as Ice Cold (or Andre 3000), his celestial half) by critics and, of course, Outkast fans. In fact, he may be regarded as the “carried” rapper in the group, what with Andre 3000’s left-field rhymes, movie-star looks and ear for pop – almost too eerily on-point for a rapper – overshadowing. But on Sir Lucious Left Foot, Patton’s taste for music subdues his quick-step flow and ear for beats, and his wordplay, at times as lissome as a whip, calls attention to his verses. When the funk is turned up, categorizing the meld of musical influences for the project is as difficult as identifying the ancestry of some Jamaicans simply by looking at their features. It is not long before the album drowns the listener in a loose flow of raps, barreling through the clattering and catchy Daddy Fat Sax, Turn Me On, Follow Us and Shutterbug, the last of which should wash the listener clean of any, say, doubt about Big Boi’s talents.
The story behind the title of the album is simple: Big Boi’s father was called Chico Dusty and one of Big Boi’s aliases is, go figure, Sir Lucious Left Foot. It is an album that therefore positions itself as an intimate undertaking, an attempt to bring listeners closer by revealing a side of the rapper that maybe not many would know. Big Boi does this, however, not with the emotiveness of bare-all songs but in sharing his musical taste and unorthodox rhyme schemes with the listener. The album is steeped in musical exploration, a journey that, though overflowing with guests, always finds Big Boi at the centre, oozing swagger.
Melodic synths, plummeting bass lines, neo-soul samples, marching band riffs, distorted guitar and piano loops, and a seemingly restless flow lifts Sir Lucious Left Foot to astronomical heights (and maybe past that spaceman Andre, who knows?) in Big Boi’s own words, “I have my ears to the streets and my eyes to the sky/I am on another planet while you [rappers] just fly” “Greetings Earthlings/I have been lurking in the shadows/gathering artilleries for the battle.” the album offers no dull moments: nothing seems out of place or clichéd, even songs about strippers (Tangerine), deejays (You Ain’t No DJ) and a tribute to Hurricane Katrina victims (Fo Yo Sorrows) find spunk. All tracks work, mainly due to Big Boi’s originality and innate lyrical skein. (Between tracks are even a few funny skits, too.)
For those into wordplay, Big Boi offers a few here, also. Consider the following: “The rhymes I design are truly unrefined/Like diamonds with a speck of blood dug up out a mine/Flow floods between the ears right behind my eyes/Giving birth to lines/Soul searching for the prize/I take my time when deciding what to write/Like the SAT while these other rappers bite” “Underrated and mostly hated but got a lot of fight/Night night I recite when I step up to this mic/Reputation trump like the husband want a wife/Stay sharp as broken glass, get busted on or smashed/When your ass cross paths with this half of the ‘Kast’.
After a long battle with Jive (the album was originally set for release date in 2007) concerning the artistic direction of the album, Big Boi switched labels and has released his album on his own terms and through a less autocratic label, Def Jam. Jive, which would not allow any records to be marketed as a single from the duo, that is without the single being from an Outkast album, blocked the singles Royal Flush and Looking For Ya, both featuring his partner Andre 3000. In fact, Andre’s only contribution on Sir Lucious Left Foot is from behind the boards on You Ain’t No DJ. Hip hop has been ailing, as is much of the music industry, from a general slump in sales. A few good-to-great albums have therefore been needed to possibly lift the genre out of these doldrums and, as it seems, a few iconic as well as young up-and-coming rappers have answered the call. Recent albums from Nas and Raekwon, for example, have taken up the task. But now it’s Big Boi’s turn and Sir Lucious Left Foot outdoes itself, eclipsing his last effort Speakerboxxx, rising past the rattling roofs of those who will blast it in their cars, those Jive clouds of uncertainty, garnering much critical acclaim in the process, to take its place among the stars. Big Boi must be just over the moon.
1. Feel Me (Intro)
2. Daddy Fat Sax
3. Turn Me On feat Sleepy Brown & Joi
4. Follow Us feat Vonnegutt
5. Shutterbug feat Cutty
6. General Patton
7. Tangerine feat TI & Khujo Goodie
8. You Ain’t No DJ feat Yelawolf
9. Hustle Blood feat Jamie Foxx
10. Be Still feat Janelle Monae
11. Fo Yo Sorrows feat George Clinton, Too Short & Sam Chris
12. Night Night feat BoB & Joi
13. Shine Blockas feat Gucci Mane
14. The Train Pt. 2 (Sir Lucious Left Foot Saves The Day) feat Sam Chris
15. Back Up Plan