Because it’s been more than six years since Atlanta’s beloved OutKast released a new album, there might be the sense that this second solo effort from Big Boi will make do for now, giving the impression that a recording from one half of OutKast couldn’t possibly be as fulfilling as another potential masterpiece from the duo.
That perception would be wrong.
On his sophomore release, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors,” Antwan “Big Boi” Patton has crafted his own masterful creation, an intoxicating brew of hip-hop, soul, electronica, rock and even nostalgic glimmers of beach music. His love of music is apparent, and while sometimes “VLADR” becomes mired in its sprawling ambition, it’s often brilliant.
Granted, it’s also a raunchy affair, so if you can get past the immense pre-occupation with sex – which, to his credit, Big Boi manages to describe with humorous, clever rhymes that intend to set a scene rather than merely shock – you’ll be able to laugh at his adolescent horniness and move on to the more substantial lyrics on the album.
Big Boi corralled the Atlanta elite – Ludacris and T.I. – for rapping assistance on “In the A,” a pedestrian fist-pumper that sounds tailor-made for sporting event shout-a-longs. But it also includes a lengthy contribution from Luda, who gleefully spouts:
“But we know I’m rich and pay the bills at my mother house
Atlanta cribs jealous cause I’m chilling at my other house
Yea you may be able to out-trap me
But none of you n***** will ever out-rap me.”
Later on “VLADR,” the percolating B.o.B. pops up on “Shoes for Running,” which skates on an indie rock, Weezer-like riff as Big Boi raps like the lyrical locomotive that he is. While B.o.B. ably fills in the creases with his own fiery delivery, the chilling line, “Death will hunt you down,” repeated like a schoolyard chant, is what will stick in your brain.
That’s the thing about “VLADR” – every icky-ish sex romp (“Objectum Sexuality,” anyone?) is countered with a moment of seriousness, such as the haunting R&B soul of “Tremendous Damage,” which finds Big Boi rapping, “February 28th the day my daddy died. Not really, his energy passed to the other side.”
Throw in the fizzy electronica of “CPU” (featuring Phantogram) and the groovy, bouncy hook of “Mama Told Me” – with a welcome extended cameo from Kelly Rowland – and you have an album that falls somewhere between Prince and Kanye West.
Not at all a bad place to be.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene